Friday, August 04, 2006

You know things are bad when... 

Yesterday there was some testimony before the U.S. Senate on the war in Iraq. The testimony was by the head of the Central Command and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Both of them admitted things are close to slipping out of control or a full scale civil war might be in the cards.

All the while their boss, Donald Rumsfeld, just sat between them looking perplexed. Of course, the Donald (and when you have an almost $500 billion dollar budget and have a few countries under your thumb you are the REAL Donald, not that idiot running some reality show)got his dander up when the esteemed Senator from New York challenged him for always having given rosy assessments of the war. The Donald took great umbrage and said he had never offered rosy assessments. Of course not, it wasn't he who said deploying "several hundred thousand" troops to properly control the control was way off the mark. It wasn't he who said Iraq could be rebuilt with its own oil revenues. It wasn't he who said U.S. troops would be welcomed as liberators. It's a Friday and I don't have time to look up exactly what he did say so I guess I'll just have to take his word for it.

anyways, I am meandering. What I really wanted to say was that for those of you who don't have C-span and missed the testimony there is another way you could get a feel for what is really going on in Iraq. You could simply read this story:

CAMP ANACONDA, Iraq - The U.S. military is increasingly using air lifts instead of ground convoys to resupply troops to avoid the deadly roadside bombs that remain a major killer of American soldiers after more than three years of war.

The 3rd Corps Support Command, which supplies units throughout the country, has made air shipment its No. 1 priority since arriving last October at Camp Anaconda, 50 miles north of Baghdad.

"When we first got here, all of our stuff was shipped out by ground," said 1st Lt. Ted Mataxis, 29, of Raleigh, N.C., whose unit is responsible for assembling Humvee tires, engines and other repair parts for air transport.

Now "we're sending the majority of our stuff by air," he said. "The only stuff that goes out by ground are the big, bulky items."

In October, the command moved about 6,500 pallets - the platform that items are loaded onto - by air each month. The monthly figure now stands at about 16,000.

The increase of air shipments means about 33,000 vehicles and 71,000 troops who would have been driving convoys around Iraq's dangerous highways have been taken off the roads.

It is unclear how many soldiers have been killed by roadside bombs - known here as improvised explosive devices, or IEDS - while on supply convoys. According to the Web site icasualties.org, roadside bombs against all types of convoys have accounted for 926 of the 2,044 hostile fire deaths among U.S. forces since July 2003.

Army officials here have no doubt that the air effort has saved lives.

"Any time you go outside the wire, anything can happen," said Maj. Doug A. LeVien, 34, from Brooklyn, N.Y., with the 548th Logistic Task Force. "All battalion commanders try to minimize how often you have to go out. If you don't have to go out, that's a win. Those are numbers that don't show up in box scores."

That sure sounds like an effective military strategy, just stay in your bases and hide. After all: "If you don't have to go out, that's a win." So if they all just stay in their bases for a few months maybe they can rack up enough wins to just declare victory and come home. I bet the Iraqi's would be happy.


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