Army Planning for Current Iraq Troop Levels Through 2010
MSNBC has affixed the shocking headline “Army plans current Iraq troop levels until 2010” to an AP report which begins:
The U.S. Army has plans to keep the current level of soldiers in Iraq through 2010, the top Army officer said Wednesday, a later date than Bush administration or Pentagon officials have mentioned thus far.
The Army chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, cautioned against reading too much into the planning, saying troops levels could be adjusted to actual conditions in Iraq. He said it is easier to hold back forces scheduled to go there than to prepare and deploy units at the last minute. “This is not a prediction that things are going poorly or better,” Schoomaker told reporters. “It’s just that I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot.”
So, in actuality, the Army does not plan to keep current troop levels through 2010 but is merely planning for that as a worst-case contingency. Failing to do that would be incredibly irresponsible.
Indeed, it’s hard to conceive of a scenario where this worst case comes to fruition. Either things will get better rather rapidly and the U.S. will move back to the Forward Observation Bases and fulfill logistical support roles, a full-scale civil war will finally erupt making continued American presence untenable, or the status quo will remain and whomever assumes the presidency in January 2009 will begin an exodus.