What Most of Our Troops Are Doing in Iraq

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What Most of Our Troops Are Doing in Iraq

When most of us picture U.S. troops in Iraq, we tend to visualize the soldiers who are constantly armed and frequently out on patrol, looking for insurgents. But as Fred Kaplan reminds us in this Atlantic Monthly article, only a small percentage of our troops play this kind of role:
To supply an army with bullets, bombs, bandages, spare parts, repair kits, fuel, food, water — and to keep all these things moving through the system so nobody runs short—requires extensive planning.

For each American soldier capable of going out on patrol or fighting insurgents, there are five support troops supplying his needs, according to an Army spokesman. In other words, of the roughly 130,000 American troops in Iraq today, only about 25,000 are combat troops.

Categories overlap, of course; a truck driver in a convoy can find himself in a firefight or be hit by a roadside bomb. Still, when the generals plan how many troops they need, this is the combat-to-support—or “tooth-to-tail”—ratio that shapes their calculations.

Once the Iraqi army stands up and our combat troops stand down — as President Bush puts it — U.S. military planners estimate that the Iraqis will still need 20,000 to 30,000 Americans for logistics, air support, intelligence, and so forth.

0 comments in What Most of Our Troops Are Doing in Iraq

Post a Comment

What Most of Our Troops Are Doing in Iraq | Demagogue Copyright © 2010