Here’s tonight’s MSNBC.com headline image:
But if you read the story you’ll see that what’s really going on is that the military is formulating a plan for rotating units in the event of a worst case scenario. This planning needs to be done in advance in case the worst comes to pass. You can’t just snap your fingers and move an army, but the media, clueless about the military as usual, just plain doesn’t understand what they’re saying.
Remember, this is the same bunch that was all breathless a few weeks ago about how our forces were going to be cut 40% by next summer based on some plans leaked to the press. Then a few days later all the headlines were about how Bush wasn’t going to pull all those troops out after all.
Folks, this is how planning in the military works. You make a plan for all contingencies, then down the road when you know what path things are on, you choose the plan that most closely matches.
Instead, people like those who might spend ten minutes in line at Starbucks and then don’t have a clue what they want to order when it’s finally their turn are hearing a snippet of part of one of these plans and then running off like they know something. The military has to plan way ahead like this. It takes too long to get things done the way it is.
Similar to this, every once in a while someone breaks a story about how the Army had plans to invade Canada or how the 82nd Airborne was going to seize the oil fields in Saudi or something. Yes, we have those plans. Some are merely exercises for training purposes. Some are formed as preparation for the worst-case scenario. And some of them truly are put together with the real intention of possibly using them. In all cases, the plans are filed away just in case they might come in handy some day. No reason to reinvent the wheel.
So, to be perfectly clear, the military has a number of plans regarding troop levels in Iraq. They’ve got some that will bring half our guys (or maybe even more) home within a year. They’ve got some that call for a slower withdrawal. They’ve got some that call for maintaining the current levels through 2009. And you had better believe that they’ve got a number of plans to rapidly double our presence if the situation on the ground calls for it. 90% of these plans will never be used, but they’re all there just in case.
For what it’s worth, I expect troop levels to be down about 25% by this time next year, maybe more if the Iraqi army comes along as planned. I think we’ll still have at least a couple of brigades (maybe a heavy for muscle and an air mobile for rapid response) and some significant air assets in Iraq when Bush leaves office, and I think they’ll stay there for a long, long time.
Just remember that the military has to plan for every possible scenario, including the worst-case ones. Remember that just because the plans exist doesn’t mean that they’re intended to be put into action. The media doesn’t seem to understand this, so you’re going to have to fend for yourselves on this one.