The new Iraqi prison system

(8:30PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

The White House and Iraqi Prime Minister are trying to finalize the details on Iraq’s new prison system.  How many prisons, prisoners, and how long these prisoners will be incarcerated are yet to be determined.

Do you want to learn more?

Onward… through the fog…

The new prison system I am talking about is the system that will be left in place once the White House and Iraqi Prime Minister finalize their American combat troop withdrawal “deal”.  The new prisons I am talking about are the bases that the American troops will continue to populate and maintain after the combat troops are withdrawn.  The prisoners, of course, will be our own military personnel who will remain in Iraq.

You may think this is me being a bit melodramatic; you’d be wrong.  I’ve been writing this essay for a number of days as new statements are made, countered, etc.

First, we have to analyze the numbers.  At the moment, there are upwards of 144,000 American troops in Iraq with the majority of them comprising of combat troops.  One Army Brigade can consist of 1,500 to 3,200 troops.  

Next, we have to analyze the plan.  The first “phase” of the plan is to remove all of the combat troops from the cities to the bases.  The second “phase” of the plan is to then withdraw troops from the bases in periodic increments for the next 3 years, or, until 2011.  The final “phase” of the plan leaves an undetermined amount of troops in Iraq for an undetermined amount of time.

In 2007, Gen. Petraeus outlined a plan of withdrawal that would leave five Army Brigades in Iraq, or, between 20,000 to 25,000 troops.

No one should be surprised. America tends not to invest nearly a trillion dollars and thousands of lives in places it means to leave. Bush’s comments have precedent in Gates’ June remarks that Korea was a better parallel for Iraq than Vietnam — Korea, of course, being a place where U.S. troops have guaranteed stability for half a century. Finally, when General Petraeus  outlined his plan for troop reductions in Congress last week, its final phase stopped with five U.S. brigades, a strength of about 20,000 to 25,000 troops, still in Iraq. Petraeus didn’t box himself in with any timeline by which the United States will reach that reduced presence, but his chart extends outward, indefinitely. Behold: the enduring relationship. Never mind that the latest BBC/ABC/NHK poll of Iraqis found a statistically insignificant number who want American troops never to leave.

The United States and George Bush are being boxed into a timeline now; 2011.  They are being boxed into who will be withdrawn; all combat troops.  This now leaves us some firm footing to extrapolate the rest and it isn’t pretty.  

At the minimum, I can foresee the United States wanting to keep 4 bases operational in Iraq; Camp Renegade in Kirkuk, Camp Victory in Baghdad, Al-Asad AB in Ramaldi, and Talil AB in Nasiriyah.  Given the projection by Gen. Petraeus, you are talking about 4,000 troops plus support personnel at each base.  Let’s say an even 6,000 military personnel just for fun, shall we.  Add to this number the civilian contractors who are not combat capable.  Realistically, you can say 8,000 – 12,000 personnel at each base with only 4,000 actual combat capable personnel to defend against an organized attack.

In Korea, Germany and Japan, our troops can leave the base at any time.  They can go into the towns and country at will.  In Iraq, you can’t go anywhere without overwhelming security.  That security will soon be gone.  In a country where the majority of Iraqi’s want us gone and think it is ok to attack American’s, what do you think that turns these bases into for our troops?  Prisons.

Tours in Iraq for our personnel are already like being sent to prison.  You can’t go out of the base perimeter without security.  The bases haven’t been attacked enmasse because they have overwhelming security, but, they are still attacked with rocket or mortar attacks.  The attack at Camp Falcon in Oct 2006 was the worst one to date.  I was in Iraq when Falcon got hit.  Now, imagine that these four bases only have 4,000 combat capable troops for defense.  Every part of the wire must still be defended around the clock, and, there will probably be only sporadic patrols into the countryside and almost no patrols into the surrounding towns.  There is a term for this; fish in a barrel.

Just yesterday, WaPo reported:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq and the United States have agreed that all U.S. troops will leave by the end of 2011, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday, but Washington said no final deal had been reached.

“There is an agreement actually reached, reached between the two parties on a fixed date, which is the end of 2011, to end any foreign presence on Iraqi soil,” Maliki said in a speech to tribal leaders in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

If this has been reported correctly, ie all troops and not just combat troops, then Maliki is trying to force the United States into total withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2011 — which is good news.  Will it happen?  Who knows.  We can only wait and see.  

Until we totally withdraw from Iraq, our troops will be prisoners, living in a prison we built and called an air base.


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    • Viet71 on August 27, 2008 at 08:46

    A precedent here is Dien Bien Phu, 1954.

    10,000 French soldiers surrounded, eventually cut off.

    Supplying the bases you describe will become impossible.

  1. As to whether “all” US troops, and not just “combat troops”, will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, well I still have a very difficult time believing that.

    Have we come so far in pursuit of regaining access to Iraq’s oil and to Iran’s oil to give up on it just like that?

    Interesting. Let’s see how it plays out.


  2. from 26 August

    Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq  insisted again Monday that all foreign troops must be out of Iraq by 2011 and that US troops in Iraq must come under the authority of Iraqi courts. These demands appear to have emanated in the first instance from Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Najaf and from Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr, now studying in Iran. They may also reflect a secret deal al-Maliki may have struck with Iran on his visit to Tehran last spring. Iran has been restraining the Mahdi Army, allowing al-Maliki to assert control in places such as Maysan Province (said to be oil-rich). You have to wonder what the quid pro quo is.

    Al-Maliki implied that the US had agreed to these two demands, but a White House spokesman denied it.

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