One Feeds the Other
It is time to be realistic about the Iranians and their significant role in destabilizing Iraq. Sophisticated weaponry, IEDs, guns, RPGs and ammo, as well as trained fighters, pour across the border from Iran to Iraq, bolstering the Shiites in their war against the Sunni. They may as well be supporting AQ in their efforts in the Sunni triangle, thus playing on both sides in the attempt to keep Iraq in turmoil. The long border between these two nations is not easy to close, especially with the few troops we have now.
Then, too, there is a porous border with Syria which should be closed, but again cannot be for lack of sufficient troops on the ground. Fighters feed into Iraq here also, and bring with them cash to pay for the insurgency, arms and ammo. Our half-hearted attempts to interdict the traffic have been far less successful than they should be if we are to win in Iraq.
When you add up what is needed to close and monitor both borders, the number of troops is high—on the order of 150 thousand over and above the current 150 thousand we now have.
On top of this, we may face a serious challenge by Iran in the next months on the ground, if we pursue an air attack on Iranian nuclear sites, or if Israel does. This would draw us into the attack, thus activating the Iranians to retaliate across the Iraqi borders. Our current force of 150 thousand would then face a major force from Iran, perhaps 500 thousand or more troops out of the Iranian army of 2 million men, and another 200 thousand from Syria if they choose to come into the fray. Sheer numbers of enemy troops on two sides of Iraq would cause us serious concerns for the safety of our troops, and if the initial engagements are not fully successful for us, we would be forced to withdraw precipitously, or risk losing the lot.
Were we, however, to add yet another 150 to 200 thousand troops to our force, thus reaching 450 to 500 thousand men all told, the situation would be far more manageable. This size of force might well forestall the Iranian-Syrian ground attacks altogether, which would amount to saving many thousands of lives on both sides.
If we do attack Iranian assets, it will have to be a thorough suppression of their command and control facilities, their air defenses, their airfields, and their communications installations, before going after the estimated 700 to 1,000 nuclear sites. These targets are all located in populous areas, which would mean significant collateral casualties in Iran, which, in turn, would force Iran to respond militarily in a meaningful way. They would most likely declare war on the US.
Hence I claim that the need exists to reinforce our forces in Iraq (and Kuwait) massively rather soon now.
Labels: GWOT, Iran, Iraq, The Threat