Iraq and the "thin green line"

A report commissioned by the Pentagon says the United States is in a race against time in Iraq -- and that it won't win if it doesn't change.

Published January 25, 2006 2:52PM (EST)

The Bush administration says that it will withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq as conditions on the ground warrant it. A new report commissioned by the Pentagon suggests that something else is driving the timeline: The Army can't keep up.

Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer under contract with the Pentagon, says in a report obtained by the Associated Press that the Army is in a "race against time" in Iraq -- and it's one that he's not sure it can win. In his report, the AP says, Krepinevich concludes that the Army cannot sustain current troop deployments in Iraq long enough to defeat the insurgency there. And if the Army does not do something soon to adjust to the demands of war, he says, it will risk a "catastrophic decline" in recruitment and reenlistment.

Krepinevich's analysis is the latest in a series of dire reports on Iraq. A report released by the U.S. military in Baghdad this week shows that violence in Iraq increased dramatically in 2005. According to the report, there were 34,100 insurgent attacks recorded in 2005, up almost 30 percent from 2004. Suicide bombings also increased sharply between 2004 and 2005, the report found. Meanwhile, a draft report not released by the military but leaked to the New York Times shows that the Bush administration's program for rebuilding Iraq has been plagued from the very beginning with what the Times calls "gross understaffing, a lack of technical expertise, bureaucratic infighting, secrecy and constantly increasing security costs."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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