Saturday, February 25, 2006

When they stand up, we'll stand down.

On Nov. 16, 2005, in a piece called, Beauty is as beauty lies I reported this snippette of conversation, between the comely Nicolle Wallace, White House Communications Director, and Chris Matthews on Hardball:
MATTHEWS: … What do you think winning is over there?

WALLACE: Well, I think that we see it every day. …

But, I think we went from five battle-ready battalions to 91 in the last about 13, 14 months. And the debate in America gets boiled down to, are there - was there one battalion that can fight without the support or three.
As I ranted at the time,
Do you think we’re stupid? Or do you think that we forgot that the commander of coalition forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 29th that the number of battle-ready battalions in the Iraq military had dropped from three to one since the last time he testified, three months earlier?

Somehow the Iraqi’s picked up 90 battle-ready battalions in the last month and a half. Stranger things have happened, but none come readily to mind. That’s about 63,000 troops, about the number of men in all of Anchorage. Where did they come from? And how did they still have men left over to perform suicide bombings in Jordan?
Here's the lastest update, courtesy of
The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.

The battalion, made up of 700 to 800 Iraqi Army soldiers, has repeatedly been offered by the U.S. as an example of the growing independence of the Iraqi military.

The competence of the Iraqi military has been cited as a key factor in when U.S. troops will be able to return home.

"As we see more of these Iraqi forces in the lead, we will be able to continue with our stated strategy that says as Iraqi forces stand up, we will stand down," President Bush said last month.
Now, how could anyone spin that into good news? You would have to go to the go-to-guy, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican John Warner of Virginia. (His ex-wife is pictured to the right.) Here he is on today’s Meet the Press:
There’s a hundred battalions of Iraqi military. Over 50 of those battalions are able to take the lead in a fight with minimal U.S. support.

In the last 3 months we’ve gone from 91 to 50+ battle-ready battalions. If there were 100 battalions on November 15th, we have gone from 91% to 50% good-to-go. Bad trend. And the number of independently battle ready battalions has gone from 3 to zero since September 29, 2005. This can’t be good.

When they stand up, we will stand down. As it turns out, they are standing up to leave the room.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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