Stalemate: Webb’s troop-rotation amendment fails again, draws no new votes since July

posted at 7:23 pm on September 19, 2007 by Allahpundit

Webb’s is the bellwether proposal Reid has offered at the start of each round of Iraq battles in the Senate. The idea is to mandate a set period of time between tours for the troops, ostensibly in order to give them more rest at home but actually to force a partial drawdown of troop levels in Iraq by making it impossible for the Pentagon to maintain pre-surge numbers in the field at any given time. The appeal of legislating more R&R for the troops makes it the Democrats’ best chance for compromise with the Republicans, so if this fails, all the measures to come will fail, too. Well, it failed — and not only did it fail, it failed to draw even a single additional yes vote since it was last torpedoed in July. The tally then was 56-41, with Tim Johnson among those not voting because he was home recovering from a stroke; today it was 56-44, with Johnson voting with the majority but John Warner switching to a no after “senior military officials” assured him that the measure would be disastrous to the war effort. Either Petraeus persuaded him last week or the fact that he no longer has to worry about re-election freed him up to vote his conscience, or both. Whatever the reason, the result here mirrors public opinion insofar as the much anticipated Petraeus report didn’t earn the war any new supporters (except maybe Warner) but did stop the supporters it already had from bleeding away. Net result: Maliki has a few more months to pull a rabbit out of his hat before the GOP abandons ship, but only a few. They’re not going to wait around for Petraeus’s next report in March to tack left before the election.

As the Journal’s profile of Gates’s strategy makes clear, withdrawal isn’t a question of if anymore, it’s a question of when. Although that’s a mighty big question.

Update: “Pro-pullout” doesn’t really sing so HuffPo finds another adjective.

Update: Meanwhile, Bush enjoys the gift that keeps on giving.


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WSJ on Gates:

What was missing from his vision for Iraq and the broader region was talk about transforming the region and spreading democracy.

That’s part of the job of SecDef? Who knew?

Karl on September 19, 2007 at 7:37 PM

“Pro-troop” my sweet a$$. There are only two sides to this: pro-victory or pro-surrender, or, in plainer terms, pro-America or anti-America.

bdfaith on September 19, 2007 at 7:42 PM

As the Journal’s profile of Gates’s strategy makes clear, withdrawal isn’t a question of if anymore, it’s a question of when. Although that’s a mighty big question.

It isn’t withdrawal taht Gates is after, it is a draw down then a long term presence. See: Gates to meet with wavering Republicans Thursday

Gates told the Wall Street Journal that he “came here with a pretty clear agenda…Mainly I was focused on how we can put Iraq in a place where we can have a long-term stabilizing presence that has broad bipartisan support.” He has also suggested the U.S. military could withdraw as many as 60,000 troops by the end of next year.

bnelson44 on September 19, 2007 at 7:47 PM

Here is the full quote from the WSJ:

“I came here with a pretty clear agenda,” Mr. Gates said. “Mainly I was focused on how we can put Iraq in a place where we can have a long-term stabilizing presence that has broad bipartisan support.” It is a vision that Mr. Gates, a former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, said was born of his experience as a national-security official during the Cold War. In those years, as in the broader struggle now under way against Islamic extremism, he said, the only successful strategy is one that can be adopted by multiple presidents — both Republican and Democrat — over many years.

bnelson44 on September 19, 2007 at 7:49 PM

“Pro-troop” legislation? (HuffPo link)

I guess that’s one way of looking at it.

flipflop on September 19, 2007 at 8:01 PM

Maybe it was just my old ears but this evening, on ABC’s World News Tonight, they had a story on this bill not passing. In the report the reporter blamed the lack of support on General Patraeus….and I swore the third time he said his name he said ‘Betrayus’…..wishful thinking on my part? Dunno if anyone TiVo’d it.

Limerick on September 19, 2007 at 8:06 PM

Update: “Pro-pullout” doesn’t really sing so HuffPo finds another adjective.

Oh Golly Gosh — noticed that Townhouse Message Machine was still cooking – Hamsher rolled out “Pro-Troop” without even a blip. Good little group messenger.

Topsecretk9 on September 19, 2007 at 8:25 PM

Congress still trying to be Cmdr n Chief. There’s just too many Chief in that tribe.

Kini on September 19, 2007 at 8:42 PM

It would be interesting to see a poll of Army troops.

MB4 on September 19, 2007 at 9:27 PM

MB4,

I am only one “troop” – but it is stupid, micromanaging, meddling and another similar epithet you wish to apply. It is transparent in it’s attempted effect, and hollow in its insincerity.

We already have made adjustments to the number and length of tours. FWIW, I am soon to start my second tour in 2 1/2 years, and it will be under the new “12+1″ limit on length.

Congress should stick to the raising of Armies and Navies – and leave the CinC, CJCS and the DoD to command the Armed Forces

major john on September 19, 2007 at 9:44 PM

The Office of the Surgeon General released a report last fall. The download is

here

Read the report slowly and deliberately. Pay careful attention to the deployment time recommendations and reset recommendations.

“Remember, wars are never lost by tactics and strategy. They are lost by readiness and logistics.”
- The Man With No Name

MB4 on September 19, 2007 at 10:19 PM

“Remember, wars are never usually not lost by tactics and strategy. They are usually lost by readiness and logistics.”
- The Man With No Name

MB4 on September 19, 2007 at 10:23 PM

Senate Republicans Block Pro-Troop Legislation

The HuffPoo is trying to psyche the populace out, change the terminology, having noticed that the presidential contenders can’t convince us that they “support the troops”.

A single play on a prominent general’s name will have dire consequences for them, and the rats in the HPoo are feeling the threat to their ‘promised’ enriched medium.

Entelechy on September 19, 2007 at 11:42 PM

What is really annoying is the belief being spread that the US military cannot sustain the force in Iraq, hence this bogus plan of Webb’s.

If there is a “sustainability” issue, it’s with the equipment, not the manpower. When a unit comes home, it’s equipment (beyond rifles and the like), especially the bulky and heavy stuff, stays behind for the replacement unit. Hence, we should expect it to become worn out with time.

That can be solved the way the marines are doing it with the new-type heavily armored personnel vehicles being shipped over now, while their humvees are on the way to the junkyard. These new vehicles are much tougher than a hummer and can stand up to an IED. In otherwords, send them all new equipment.

This is doable by opening up the production lines and making MORE. Not just for M1s and Bradleys, but for the aircraft (including the fast movers as well as the helos). Some analysts are worried about aircraft frame hours for some of the older aircraft like the A10s, B52′s and B1s. So, open up the production lines for the F16′s again. Or buld or convert other aircraft into “bomber-lites”. Do we really nead stealthy, radar evading, hardened billion-dollar platforms dropping individual smart, self-guiding “smart bombs” on specific buildings when designated by ground troops in Iraq? You know, we’re fighting Al Qaeda here, not the Soviet Union.

America won WWII through it’s industrial might. And that was starting from scratch. It was Eisenhower that said that America needed to have a full-time defense industry for the future. Well, we have the best on the planet. Time to use them to supply the troops with best weapons to fight.

The only reason this won’t happen is a mindset among Democrats that the soldiers MUST be starved of new equipment in order to force Bush to cut and run.

The personnel issue is even easier to solve, and without a draft. The total military is about 1.6 million strong. 10% are in Iraq. Granted, most come from the Army, with a sizable portion from the Marines.

The last I heard, the Army’s strength was about 600,000 active duty soldiers, National Guard and Reserves, not included. This from the Army’s posture statement for 2007 back in February.

The Marines have about 250,000 active duty.

In Iraq right now there are 160,000 Army and Marines, and another 20,000 in Afghanistan. Djibouti and elsewhere (some 80 countries), make up another 20-30 thousand.

The arithmetic is that slightly less than one quarter of our total land troops are deployed outside of the country doing combat jobs. (210,000 out of 850,000).

That means that more 3/4 of them ARE NOT!

And this using the current deployed number of troops, not the lower “steady state” that will come after the Iraq troop levels come down in the spring.

So, maybe I’m just being stupid, but as DOD promised that the US could fight more than one multi-front war the size of Iraq/Afghanistan, and as 3 out of 4 soldiers and marines are NOT fighting overseas right now, tell me WHY our army is “broken” like the leftists say. Especially when the objective data is that RETENTION is not a problem right now?

Maybe I’m being naive but that means one ought to expect an average ratio of 1 to 3 “online” to “offline” for the troops in combat. Hell, that’s already better than Webb’s plan. If this isn’t being accomplished, then address the readiness issue administratively.

I read Petreaus’s comments. He didn’t say our army was broken. He was cautious about the future, but he spoke from what he believe we needed, not what we could scrape out of the bottom of the barrel to make do with.

After all, we could, if we wanted to, “surge” 850,000 men and women to Iraq to fight on the ground, and still protect the country from invasion with more than a million Natonal Guard and Reserve (many already Iraq war vets) called up for homeland defense duty.

Maybe Major John or someone else can enlighten me why this troop-rotation mandate idea of Webb’s and the Democrats is not pure Bullsh*t.

georgej on September 20, 2007 at 4:31 AM

After all, we could, if we wanted to, “surge” 850,000 men and women to Iraq to fight on the ground, and still protect the country from invasion with more than a million Natonal Guard and Reserve (many already Iraq war vets) called up for homeland defense duty.

Maybe Major John or someone else can enlighten me why this troop-rotation mandate idea of Webb’s and the Democrats is not pure Bullsh*t.

georgej on September 20, 2007 at 4:31 AM

If we could “surge” anything remotely like 850,000 men and women to Iraq to fight on the ground, I really don’t think that Bush would have surged a mere 30,000. Also if we could “surge” anything remotely like 850,000 men and women to Iraq to fight on the ground, then the Webb amendment to give as much time at home as in Iraq would be no problem and would in fact already be being done and then some and would never even have come up.

MB4 on September 20, 2007 at 2:00 PM

The Army is in fact stretched so thin that it is apparently necessary, unlike any other American war that I have ever heard of, to have about 100,000 private “contractors” supplementing the Army in Iraq.

MB4 on September 20, 2007 at 2:05 PM