This morning, Voice of America reported 3,000 Americans have died in the Iraqi War

The Internet and the print media are abuzz that President Bush’s administration will “surge” 30,000 more troops into the conflict particularly into the cauldron of Baghdad and critics are busily pointing out there are many as yet unresolved questions especially about just where are the additional troops to come from; if found, how long must they stay in a country torn by civil war.

Pentagon corridors are rife with speculation and opinions ranging from a three to six month time period in which America’s Marines and soldiers can remain in combat at the 170.000 troop level or a full year as Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker has told associates.

General Schoomaker has said the time period of one year and one-half would be more realistic citing concerns that Iraq’s warring factions could simply stand down and wait it out until American forces were withdrawn.

The long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have forced the Army to play a shell game with troops and equipment; the strain has fractured American families as more and more reservists and National Guard troops are rushed into service or have their deployments extended.

There might be those who liken the reality of President Bush’s predicament with a DC Comics event in 2002 intended to promote a series of comic books. “Power Surge” was composed of seven eponymous one-shot issues involving participation by classic cartoon characters such as “Batman” and then “Wonder Woman” and others such as “The Justice League.”

Let’s go back just a few weeks ago when:

The Army, facing another tough recruiting season, launched a $200 million-a-year advertising campaign and unveiled a new slogan: “Army Strong.”

The campaign’s core message is that the Army builds not only physical but also mental and emotional strength in recruits, bonding them into a powerful, close-knit team.

“There’s strong, and then there’s Army strong,” a deep male voice intones as martial music rises from a brass band in the background.

The television ads, launched nationwide for Veterans Day along with Internet placements and other outreach, omit all but the most fleeting images related to the all-volunteer Army’s biggest endeavor ever: the war in Iraq.

The main 30- and 60-second ads show soldiers jogging in formation, scaling a rope obstacle course and leaping out of a helicopter — all take place in what appear to be familiar, grassy, domestic settings. The only brief glimpse of what could possibly be Iraq is of a group of soldiers hastily raising a tent — although, unlike others in the ad, these soldiers wear no helmets or body armor.

There are obvious reasons the Army might not want to underscore to potential recruits, and their parents, that signing up these days almost inevitably means deployment to combat zones in Afghanistan or Iraq, where the majority of the more than 2,850 killed and 21,000 wounded have been soldiers.

The Army missed its fiscal 2005 recruiting target by more than 6,000 soldiers but rebounded last year with the aid of thousands of added recruiters, a doubling of the maximum enlistment bonus to $40,000 and some eased standards. The Army begins fiscal 2007 with another hefty target of 80,000 recruits and only about 15 percent already in the pipeline — compared with a goal of 25 to 30 percent.

Army officials acknowledge that parents and other influential adults are less likely to recommend military service today because of the ongoing conflicts, and surveys have shown that the wars have made some young people more wary of enlisting.

The television ads are coupled with Internet recruiting initiatives aimed at helping youths do their own research, including a presence on YouTube, Google, Yahoo and MySpace.

The ads were tested on hundreds of soldiers, although studies show that it is difficult for the military to gain an accurate measure of the effectiveness of advertising, which is relatively expensive compared with other recruiting tools such as educational benefits and bonuses.

An offer to add tens of thousands of permanent troops to the Army and Marine Corps at a time when there is speculation of a rift between the President and the Generals? While the new Secretary of Defense is hearing an earful from senior officers and analysts questioning the President’s preferred “solution” in Iraq of surging more U.S. forces? When incoming power-brokers in the new Democratic Congress are saying that they will support nothing short of a clear exit strategy and withdrawal?

If Karl Rove were the mastermind that many think he is, this offer to increase the size of the armed forces to fight the “long war” against terrorism would go down in Washington history as one of the most brilliant gambits ever. Instead, it just confuses the public, proposing a move that isn’t a solution to Iraq or the military’s woes, that is, if is has any woes. According to one pundit.

Certainly a picture of the United States at permanent war against terrorists connotes the need for a larger military. In the overall scheme of things, it does seem a little crazy that with all of the talk that we could have “won” in Iraq with more forces that we haven’t appreciably increased the size of the U.S. armed forces — that is, the number actually doing the fighting — in the five years since Sept. 11.

The first thing that should be understood about more though is that adding tens of thousands of troops to the U.S. military isn’t instant. Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month that it would take two years to recruit and train a new division.

In other words, it is not about winning in Iraq now.

The Army fell almost 10 percent short of its recruiting goals in 2005 because of the Iraq war and will meet its recruiting goal this year by lowering standards and increasing incentives.

Because of the ongoing and open-ended Iraq commitment, both the chiefs of the Army and Marine Corps have argued for more forces and money over the past year. Gen.Schoomaker, has said his service would “break” without an increase. The service is currently operating under a temporary authorization from Congress to increase its active duty strength by 30,000 soldiers beyond the cap of 482,000. Schoomaker and others have argued for a permanent and larger increase.

The new Marine Corps commandant Gen. James T. Conway also has called for an increase in the number of Marines from the current 175,000 level. Though the Marines are on a glide path to add just 5,000 a year over the next three years, Congressional sources indicate that the Corps has plotted out a potential increase to 190,000 over many years.

To many, a potential surge in Iraq is being confused with increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps, as if one relates to the other. In terms of horse trading though, they do relate.

What General is going to speak up and say ‘no thanks, we don’t need more’ when more is being offered today? Under Donald Rumsfeld, Army and Marine Corps leaders were already in revolt over budgetary pressures and constantly changed rules regarding rotations into the combat zone. Now they are being dangled with a commitment of more to come if they help the administration out now: ah, silence of the lambs.

And the Democrats? Their candidate for president campaigned in 2004 to increase the Army by 40,000 troops. Faced with having to pay for the increase and capitulate to a pugnacious President, even their questions of ‘why now, what for’ will signal weak on national defense and a contempt for our glorious overburdened soldiers. They will go along as well.

Meanwhile, the American public will be confused about the increase and the surge. An increase in end strength, even if implemented, will not put more capable soldiers in the ranks before 2009. In other words, it has nothing to do with turning the corner in Iraq. But the pragmatic public, faced with even the slimmest prospect of making lemonade will go along with the President’s proposal if it gets the okay from the generals. The American public then are the only ones with honor and with their hearts in the right place.

Five years after Sept. 11, after a losing election, the President of the United States decides America needs a larger military?

These guys can’t see past today’s events to craft a strategy for tomorrow.

They say that the Army and Marine Corps has been stretched to a breaking point, that more troops are needed to fight the “long war” against global terrorism.

It’s convincing that America might need a larger (or different) military to address the challenges it will face in the future. But what it needs first is to get out of the Iraq, a move that would instantly alleviate the pressures on today’s military.

And America needs a larger non-military. Whether it’s Iraq, drugs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa, hurricane Katrina, or the increase in domestic crime it is so clear only Washington can’t see that our tendency to see a military solution to everything is not only wrong but has had profound negative effects.

Bush has ordered Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to develop a plan to add tens of thousands of permanent “end strength” to the Army and Marine Corps.

“I’m inclined to believe that we do need to increase our troops, the Army, the Marines,” the President said.

There are reports that Gen. John Abizaid, the overall commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, plans to retire in March. The Arabic speaking Abizaid was once seen as a soothing tonic after the bumbling Gen. Tommy Franks skedaddled from the scene less than a month after “victory” in Iraq in 2003. Culturally aware, politically sensitive, polished, he has reportedly been offered higher posts in the government.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a leading candidate to replace Abizaid is Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, an even more polished, media-friendly, soldier intellectual, which commanded the 101st Airborne Division in the 2003 war. Petraeus later deployed to northern Iraq, where he led the early “training” effort of Iraq forces, and has since driven Army counter-insurgency doctrine from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.

Opponents and supporters of the Iraq War all agree that th United State’s influence in Iraq is diminishing To conclude, Fredrick Kagan, a noted military historian has been quoted, “if we surge and it doesn’t work, it’s hard to imagine what we do after that” and he finished saying “But we’re already in a bad spot and if we don’t do anything defeat is imminent.”

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