Today is our 1,798th day in Iraq.
We'll start today as we always do, with the latest casualty figures from the Warron Terra, courtesy of AntiWar.com:
Since war began (3/19/03): 3963
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 3824
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3502
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3105
Since Election (1/31/05): 2525
Other Coalition Troops: 307
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 483
We find this morning's Cost of War
passing through $495, 687, 000, 000.00. If I read that right, the next milestone is going to be 500 billion
Turning to our friends at IAVA
, we find that the military is still fighting for ordinary troops and tools on the ground. But the top brass likes the expensive toys
I love airplanes as much as anyone. I have a model of the F-22 on the computer I am writing from. But the Air Forces’ preoccupation with “high tech solutions” that have been proven time and again to be ineffective is mind boggling. I don’t know what happens to these guys as they attain the highest positions in their service and then think that a) they have all the answers even if that answer has always been wrong in the past and b ) that they can smack the boss around. Much like General Kiley had to find out the hard way over Walter Reed - this guy had to be schooled by Secretary Gates.
Defense Tech: AF Gen. Gets Slap-Down from the Big Boss
With defense spending expected to decline as U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq, some in the Pentagon have argued for shifting money to high-end weapons systems, like fighters and Navy ships, that can be used if needed against rivals with larger militaries, like China and Russia.
Gates prefers a focus on equipment and personnel needed to wage low-grade counterinsurgencies, like Iraq, arguing that such fights are more likely to occur in the near future.
“The reality is we are fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theater,” Gates told a Senate committee last week.
We could field an infantry brigade for a year for the price of each F-22. When we need more boots on the ground in the little wars we’re in, the Air Force always seems to want to start more, advocating air strikes in other countries. But that starts a mess that Soldiers and Marines, and now even Airmen have to go in and clean up. I am glad to see Secretary Gates focused on the task at hand. Some days I wonder if he’s not the only adult in DC.
Maybe some of those generals should consider this story, from the AP on Military.com:
Cost was a driving factor in the decision to turn down the request for the so-called MRAPs, according to the study. Stateside authorities saw the hulking vehicles, which can cost as much as a $1 million each, as a financial threat to programs aimed at developing lighter vehicles that were years from being fielded.
After Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared the MRAP (pronounced M-rap) the Pentagon’s No. 1 acquisition priority in May 2007, the trucks began to be shipped to Iraq in large quantities.
In another soldier's story this morning from Veteran's Against The Iraq War, the story of an active-duty soldier's visit home from Iraq tells us that maybe the home front has been lost for good.
...I know another local family whose son has been in the service ten years
or so--Ft. Drum, U.S. Army Tenth Mountan Division (light infantry), then
stationed at Ft. Hood in the mechanized infantry, Ft. Sam in San Antonio
and now attached to Ft. Bragg in the Army Corps of Engineers.
We think of him as a “young man” because he is so much younger than us
from the Viet Nam era, but he is no kid--he’s been to the Middle East
four times--Egypt and Israel as part of a multi-national peace-keeping
force, Kuwait as part of Operation Desert Spring, to Iraq for Operation
Enduring Freedom where he fought in the Battles of Fallujah and Najaf and
now he is doing his second Iraq tour in Baghdad.
This seasoned soldier is vibrant, well-trained, intelligent, in the prime
of his life. He’s a gentleman and a sensitive human being. And his
chest is getting a little weighted from the metals and commendations
bestowed upon him. If there is a definition of the ideal patriotic
American soldier some where, he fits the description.
He’s been home on leave for a little R and R and time with his
family--but he will be back in Iraq by the time this is published. He’ll
be back in that place where GIs are getting shot at on a daily basis.
Mortars are being hurled at them, RPGs and IEDs are a daily dose of
death. He’ll be back in country, the place where young men are doing
their duty, serving their country, and dying every single day that this
unjust war drags on.
This young man has a kid sister, 15, I think--she attends Smithson Valley
High School in Comal County, Texas, and big brother wanted to have lunch
with her before shipping out. His mother had spoken to the principal a
couple of weeks ago and told him that her son would be home, the same son
who graduated from the very same high school and is well known as one of
the kids who joined the service and went off to war.
Last Wednesday he bought sandwiches for his sister at a local restaurant
and went to the administration office of the high school to check in so
that he could meet her during her lunch period and sit down and enjoy a
little treat with her. She adores him and misses him and is proud of him
and wants him to be safe and to come home alive when this war is finally
But at the school office, this United States Army Staff Sergeant, wearing
an unassuming t-shirt that said Camp Fallujah, where he and his men
served in the roughest fighting of the war; I.D. in hand so the high
school administrators would be able to verify his identity; this American
hero just wanting to see his sister--was denied entrance in to the
school. He was turned away. He was told he could not have lunch with
his sister. He was denied access to the public school he is supposedly
fighting to keep free. That’s what they say anyway, when school
officials let military recruiters troll the halls for new prospects.
They can come on campus anytime. They can sign kids up. But let a real
soldier visit his sister before he goes back to the war--no--the public
school wouldn’t let that happen.
So, without being able to talk to his sister, the Staff Sergeant left.
His sister was crushed. He was stunned. His mother was brought to
tears. His father was outraged.
I write this because I now know that the war here in America is lost.
While men and women are fighting and dying for freedom in Iraq, nobody’s
here minding the store.
Lastly this morning, we've been sometimes trolling through the candidates and seeing where they stand on the war. I won't quote too much of Senator McCain, but if you can stomach it, his platform is here...
Curious though, that I would find his position on the 'home front' after posting the veteran's story above.
If efforts in Iraq do not retain the support of the American people, the war will be lost as soundly as if our forces were defeated in battle. A renewed effort at home starts with explaining precisely what is at stake in this war to ensure that Americans fully understand the high cost of a military defeat. The war in Iraq is at a crossroads and the future of the entire region is at stake - a region that produced the terrorists who attacked America on 9/11 and where much of the world's energy supplies are located. Success is essential to creating peace in the region, and failure would expose the United States to national security threats for generations. Defeat in the war would lead to much more violence in Iraq, greatly embolden Iran, undermine U.S. allies such as Israel, likely lead to wider conflict, result in a terrorist safe haven in the heart of the Middle East, and gravely damage U.S. credibility throughout the world.
The American people also deserve to know that the path ahead will be long and difficult. They have heard many times that the violence in Iraq will subside soon - when a transitional government is in place, when Saddam is captured, when elections are held, when a constitution is in place. John McCain believes it is far better to describe the situation just as it is - difficult right now, but not without hope. The stakes for America could not be higher.
It's another busy week....let's get to it!