I spoke to Beth yesterday, and Evan had gotten a phone call through to her from Iraq. He is back to his post near Baghdad after a relaxing eighteen day leave home to Texas. All's well with him, but you hear an increasing frustration. From what I gather in my readings and conversations, the U.S. force is/was about 1/3 of what was recommended by experienced Army experts to stabilize Iraq. This higher number was ridiculed by Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Perle the civilian heads of the Department of Defense, who plotted the Iraq invasion.
An additional 200,000 troops for the invasion would probably have secured the streets of Baghdad and prevented looting. It would have preserved the infrastructure. It would have controlled Iraq's porous borders with Iran and Syria, where so many of the insurgency came from. It would have allowed posting guards at hundreds of munitions dumps where millions of firearms and tons of ammunition had been stored by Saddam-- most of those munitions were stolen by the insurgency and gangs. More troops would have shown the Iraqi civilian population that we meant business, that we cared about their security and re-building their country into a democracy-- and that we weren't going to hit 'n run and leave them high and dry like we did to the Vietnamese who had helped us in the early 1970s.
Bush's Iraq fiasco is turning into one of history's greatest debacles. It's too bad, our military deserves better.
A bright piece of news from Evan is that his unit is training a local "militia-type group" in police work-- mainly how to maintain a vehicle checkpoint to keep trouble makers out of their village. There is no Iraqi or any other police or army presence in the area except Evan's troop. Most of militia are teenagers-- the age of an average Eagle Scout. He says the work is slow, but the kids are eager enough. This is how we're preparing for our exit. In a way it's heartening, in a way, sad beyond comprehension. What will happen to these kids when the troops leave?