Don't hold your breath waiting for a drawdown of U.S. forces. By this fall, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is set to increase to 171,000, according to Army Lieutenant General Carter Ham, the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Lt. Gen. Ham (for those unfamiliar with military ranks, a lieutenant general wears three stars and is the equivalent of a Navy vice-admiral) says that the deployment of troops into Iraq will overlap the planned rotation of forces out, causing what MSNBC describes as a "temporary surge in U.S. forces."
The additional troops would represent an increase of 9,000 troops over those already present. The original "surge," as revealed by the administration to CNN in January 2007, called for 20,000 more soldiers in Iraq. That number crept up in March, as General David Petraeus asked for additional increments totalling about 7,600 soldiers, and eventually reached some 30,000 new troops by the first week of July, according to the BBC.
This new "temporary" surge means that by the fall, the surge forces will have nearly doubled in size, and will bring the total number of U.S. soldiers to about the same level as was present in Vietnam in late 1965 ... the year that Tom Lehrer noted that LBJ was "practicing escalatio on the Vietnamese."
The more things change ...
The slippery slope of escalation, once described by a young military officer (well, okay, it was me) as "feeding the troops into the meat grinder very slowly, in the hope that no one would notice right away," is once again finding a home in an American land war in Asia.