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July 22, 2003

Military "Ade"

My friend Prariedog told me today (a story I haven't confirmed yet) that a number of countries are pledging military support for our efforts in Iraq. Lithuania reportedly has offered 43 service personnel for the mission. WTF??? I had parties in my dorm room bigger than that. Those guys will have to be on Lemonade Patrol because a number that size won't be worth much else to us. I can hear the military planning sessions now.

US General: Ok men, this is a dangerous mission. I want 500 of you to flank off the right as we infiltrate Mosul, another 500 will head off to the left and the last 500 can head with me straight into the city. Lithuania, why don't you guys clean up our trash and work on a Habitat for Humanity house here on the corner. We'll pick you up when we are done.

Who the hell sends 43 people to a place like Iraq? That's like one guy trying to trick-or-treat for UNICEF, or Oprah losing one pound. It just doesn't make a big difference.

NOTE TO READERS: We here at Silflay Hraka are prone to turning cynical and nasty without warning. In such an instance we tend to sound sarcastic and mean. We apologize for future such occurances.

Posted by Woundwort at July 22, 2003 01:24 PM | TrackBack
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Comments

Well, it depends on who they are. 43 infrantrymen wouldn't help much. 43 MPs with urban riot training would be a godsend in training the Iraqi police we are reconstituting. 43 divers would be wonderful at the ports we are opening and building up. 43 chemical warfare experts would be a great help in decontaminating sites.

Posted by: Jeff Medcalf at July 22, 2003 02:30 PM

Normally I'd agree wholeheartedly with you that it's merely a token force, but I was browsing on Lithuania's military force and ran into the realization that their military is TINY - the site I hit (http://www.eastlant.nato.int/hq_info/HQ%20Mag%2002_2/lithuania%20towards%20member.htm) talks proudly of having a single battalion trained on NATO standards, with plans for the entire brigade to be trained and ready by 2006. If you go there, notice that their platoons are only 30 soldiers, so their brigade is smaller than the US norm as well.

The importance of only sending troops that have the NATO doctrine is important - look at the friendly fire incidents to see that all combatants on the same side need be on the same sheet of music.

Lithuania just started a new basic training program that really is a retraining for everyone in their military in 1999 - so their force is, in reality, only a few years old. Having a single battalion up to speed to NATO standards in only a few years, especially since they have to un-learn their old doctrine, is an impressive task. Especially on a budget - they are a lot smaller than the US, as well.

They have a platoon constantly in UN/NATO service, so it sounds like they are committing a second (Lithuainian) platoon for Liberia. If their one combat-ready batallion is similar to the US model, they only have in total 3 to 5 companies, each consisting of 3-5 platoons. This works out to 9 (at the low end) and 25 (at the high end) platoons combat ready. Factor in rotation of forces, etc, and you're actually looking at least another company in reality committed. They are probably commiting an entire company to NATO out of their single battalion. Figure that to be a 20%-25% of their entire NATO-ready force.

Also add in the cost of troops overseas - it's more than just money. You have to supply them with care packages, arrange for emergency leaves, etc. After all this additional effort to keep them happy and combat-capable, you also have to prepare for the higher rate of people getting out when their tours are up, meaning you loose their expensive training and experience and have to replace them.

Basically, Lithuania commiting a platoon may not mean much to the overall fight, but it is a significant effort on their part. It is also a political statement by Lithuania that the are standing with us on this in a way that they can't weasle out of later.

Personally, I would rather have a country, no matter how small, that is willing to stand and fight on my side as an ally than have a larger fair-weather friend that I can't trust. Even if the Lithuanians are doing nothing more than running supplies, I have to respect them more than 'allies' that would rather wait for us to finish the fight and make it safe before they dare enter the area.

Posted by: xCavTrooper at July 22, 2003 02:45 PM

For a tiny, dirt poor country, this is a pretty significant contribution.

You also have to remember the effect of the letter from the "Vilnius 8" on Western Europe.

I'm not complaining that this small freedom-loving country is sending a platoon to help. Their big contribution was in making a stand back in February, by simply "missing a good opportunity to shut up."

When it comes to our little brothers in liberty like Lithuania, in for a penny, in for a pound, I say.

The abject absence of France and Germany on the issue -- with the exception of their thwarting us -- is what we ought ought to be talking about.

Posted by: Omnibus Bill at July 22, 2003 05:10 PM

The Lithuanians are bloody fools. The US was stupid for sending in troops without a US resolution, and I hope that Lithuania doesn't keep throwing good troops into the hopeless mess the "coalition" has created.

I don't fancy their chances in Eurovision next year.

Posted by: Larry Lurex at July 23, 2003 11:46 AM

Ah, yes, Larry, because their chance of success in a continent-wide version of "American Idol" is really what's important. Glad you're keeping things in perspective for us over here.

The rest of your comment doesn't even merit a response.

Posted by: Josh Crockett at July 23, 2003 04:49 PM
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