Before the invasion, several generals told Congress it would take 600,000 troops to effectively occupy Iraq. If they really needed to do it on the cheap, maybe they could squeak by with 400,000. Instead we have about 150,000. Why? Do we simply not have enough troops in the Armed Forces to put 4-600,000 on the ground there? Or are substantial numbers tied up elsewhere? Or is there not enough money? Or what? I’ve never been clear on that point.
This might go in GD or GQ. As an essentially political question which may have no clearly correct factual answer, I’m putting it in GD. Mods, move if you think appropriate.
The short answer is Rumsfeld. Before 9/11 he gave a speech saying that the biggest military threat facing the US was the Pentagon Bureaocracy. One of his missions was to pare down the military to a lean, mean force that used smaller focused actions against the enemy. He just wasn’t in the mood to listen to the generals when they said it would take more forces.
He might have been right if the Iraquis really did greet us as libearators with candy and flowers. Unfortunately they saw as a foreign, heathen occupiers.
God, I wish we would just send 800,000. Everywhere an Iraqi looks, he should see an American trying to build something or fix something or do something. Everytime an Iraqi citizen looks out his window, he should see construction equipment driven by US Soldiers.
We don’t have 600,000 troops that can be all stationed in one place. The Army has about 500,000 active duty, 200,000 reserve, and 350,000 national guard. The Marine Corps has I believe around 175,000 active duty and 40,000 reserves.
So if we mobilized the whole kit and caboodle we’d have roughly 1.2m persons, but such an act would not be realistically feasible.
Truth be told 600,000 would not have been necessary. Yet again the generals were thinking in cold war terms and not modern ones.
We were probably somewhat undermanned for the task at hand immediately after the invasion but not to the degree of needing 600,000 troops; the more serious issue was poor planning pre-invasion. And multiple mistakes were made in the early days of the occupation that significantly contributed to the current situation.
Actually many Iraqis saw us as liberators. However it only takes a relatively small proportion who decide to start shooting for things to go sour.
Rumsfeld was precisely correct in his ideas for restructuring the military. The Generals who opposed him are still living in the Cold War and that’s just unacceptable and those generals are luckily being phased out as they retire.
To my knowledge Rumsfeld’s reforms were not focused on “slimming down the military” whatsoever, but rather restructuring military divisions and etc. to be smaller and more mobile, and capable of acting more independently. Basically he wanted a force that could have moderate sized deployments all over the world and rapidly if the need arose for it.
Most people who aren’t still planning on fighting the Russians tend to recognize such a force has multiple advantages in the current world versus the more cumbersome Cold War military.
Our military isn’t big enough. We’d need to reinstate the draft to field that big an army in Iraq. And we all know how well that would go over.
The reason there’s only 140K troops there now is that that really is as big a force as we can sustain there - and we’re wearing out our military seventeen ways from Sunday in order to sustain even that large a force.
And your evidence that a significant portion of Iraqis ever were stupid enough to regard us as liberators is ? And no matter how few or many people are doing the shooting, most of the population supports them.
Which of course is why stabilizing Iraq would take a much larger number of troops than we have there.
Using a huge force is not a panacea, and may have made the situation worse. You can not protect an entire country against an insurgency - there aren’t enough troops to defend every possible target and stop every possible terrorist.
It’s entirely possible that a huge occupying force could have made matter worse. If, as Bear_Nenno wants, “Everywhere an Iraqi looks, he should see an American trying to build something or fix something or do something. Everytime an Iraqi citizen looks out his window, he should see construction equipment driven by US Soldiers,” it may have just contributed to the belief that the U.S. was an occupying power instead of a stabilizing force, and driven up the popularity of the insurgency.
And anyway, if wishes were horses, we’d all be eating steak. The plain truth is that there was no way the U.S. military could have come up with a force anywhere near that size. It’s strained enough as it is.
Rumsfeld was right on the big issue of restructuring the military. Generals aren’t always correct - they’re politicians within the military, and they all have their own constituencies, biases, and their equivalent of pork and earmarks. For example, Rumsfeld took a lot of heat from the military when he decided to can the Crusader 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer. But does anyone now dispute that was the right decision? Can you envision a scenarioi today where the U.S. needs to slug it out on a battlefield with huge artillery pieces? A need that couldn’t be filled by combinations of precision bombing, cruise missiles, armed drones, and other more agile weapons?
BTW, one of the strongest proponents of the system was General Shinseki, who later became famous for being the first to claim that 400,000 troops or more were needed to occupy Iraq.
Of course, essentially none of this was Donald Rumsfeld’s idea; those reforms were well underway during the Clinton administration.
Of course the modernization was all a good idea, and it’s all totally irrelevant to this thread. The answer to the OP is simply that it was not, and is not today, possible for the United States to deploy 600,000 troops in Iraq.
(Nevermind haggling about the common colloquial use of the word “troops”) Martin Hyde has a point: Rumsfeld came in with a reform/transformation agenda that could be said to make sense from the POV of the likely threats and missions as of that date, and that the brass hats (and folks who believe that a Reaganesque build-up is the only way to “strengthen” a military) were skeptical about but could be argued to make sense in the context of the time. But, barely having gotten started on that, HIS boss sent him into a war, to use Rummy’s own phrase, “with the Army he had”, which had NOT been restructured. As it stood, it was not really prepared to be involved in large-scale, long-timeframe invasion-occupation-pacification project.
Is the Army a bit tight to be able to fight the proverbial “one and a half” conventional wars? Maybe. Perhaps having 38 instead of 33 combat brigade equivalents in the active force would be useful even in the restructured format. But still, this mission would tax any force we could justify in terms of budget and politics in this age. Ever since the end of the Vietnam war, the only place the US Military could have conceivably deployed a force of 600K to a single theatre at the same time, even at the peak of the Reagan build-up (16 Army divisions, rather than today’s 10), would have been Europe – and that, because we had a huge force prepositioned with NATO.
Occupation-pacification can be ridiculously labor-intensive. But you do NOT need 600,000 American troops to pacify Iraq, though,** if ** you could count on 100K Americans and a half-million Iraqui soldiers/police/civil servants that remained functional enough to maintain civil order. That is our usual experience of occupation: the invader takes over some strategic points and locations and controls the government, but local police and civil servants take care of maintaining everyday civic life (see WW2). THAT did not happen here.