By W. Patrick Lang

According to George Casey, General, US Army, commander of US Forces in Iraq, Iraqi forces are declining (at the moment) in terms of combat ready battalions of infantry:

In June, the Pentagon told lawmakers that three Iraqi battalions were fully trained, equipped and capable of operating independently. On Thursday, Casey said only one battalion is ready.

“It doesn’t feel like progress,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Despite the drop, Casey hailed significant progress in training Iraqi security forces and noted that U.S. troops are embedded with more Iraqi units in mentoring roles than before. “Have we lost ground? Absolutely not,” Casey said.

Casey said the Pentagon’s standard for what constitutes a fully capable Iraqi battalion is high and that it’s been difficult to ensure logistical support for Iraqi units. “I understand how it could be perceived as disappointing,” he told Collins. Associated Press

It doesn’t feel like progress, Senator, because it is not progress. The Army loves to do matrix type measurement of various things with lots of little boxes on spread sheets, and numerical values assigned to things that often are not measurable with numbers. Rumsfeld loves this. (metrics)

A proclivity to do this is bred deep into the officer corps and …

Continued BELOW:
A proclivity to do this is bred deep into the officer corps and probably has something to do with the engineering school nature of West Point.

When I taught there, I once watched them pick a civilian professor for a tenured job using this method. Interestingly, all the little numbers in the boxes indicated that this was the best person. They picked him. We all knew at the time that this man would be a terrible teacher, and he was, but the numbers came out that way and so they picked him.

Therefore, I am not altogether sure that Casey’s NUMBER means a lot. It may just be a NUMBERS drill, perhaps by one of my former eleves. But, neveretheless, it is not good news.


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Drinking the Kool-Aid,” Middle East Policy Council Journal, Vol. XI, Summer 2004, No. 2

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