Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Franks and Troop Strength

Instapundit notes the Belmont Club's post defending Tommy Franks over his conduct of the Iraq War. Franks was a helluva general and he richly deserves accolades for setting the land speed record in the Middle East.

What I really want to address is something from the comments section that attempts to bolster the idea that we had too few troops for the war. The comment said what I have read time and time again but which does not get any more true for the repetition. The claim is that we invaded with 3 divisions. Since prior to the war our military planned to use 5 Army divisions and 1 or 2 Marine divisions in a major theater war, 3 divisions seems pretty lame indeed.

But I counted the line battalions via and counted about 70 infantry, armor, mechanized, and recon battalions. This includes the British. Assuming 10 battalions per division we had the frontline equivalent of 7 divisions for the Iraq War which compares quite favorably with the 5-6 we had long assumed were necessary to win a smallish war. 1st MEF was 3-divisons strong with about 30 battalions. Add 30 more Army battalions and 10 British and you have 4 divisions more.

The overall numbers come in low compared to 1991 only when you remember that we cut out a lot of the logistics and supporting forces that had come along in the Persian Gulf War. Instead of masses of separate artillery brigades we relied on air power. We didn't need as many planes since we didn't drop as much tonnage as a result of not using that many dumb bombs. And we didn't have the logistics tail since we worked on supply margins of days rather than creating iron mountains of supplies before we ever went in like we did in 1991.

We did not have too few troops for the invasion and I do not think we are short of troops for the counter-insurgency campaign. The enemy has unfortunately access to unlimited money and lots of weapons lying around Iraq. Under these circumsances it takes time to beat them. But we are.

In any case, Franks deserves all our thanks and honors. I'm just sorry he retired after OIF. We should have extended him for the duration.