Oct 19, 2007

Or not... 

That whole Iraq-Afghan swap for the MEF, I mentioned? Yeah... not so much...
Defense Secretary Robert Gates today shot down Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway's proposal to shift Marines from Iraq to Afghanistan, which would leave the Army to handle operations in Iraq.

Gates dismissed the idea when asked about it at a Pentagon media briefing. “I have pretty much literally, up until this point, heard one sentence about it, that they were thinking about it,” he said. “So I would say that if it happens it will be long after I'm secretary of defense.”

Conway recently said the Marine Corps hoped to brief Gates on the idea. “It's unfortunately premature to talk about it in a public audience at this point,” Conway said on Oct. 16 at an event sponsored by the Center for a New American Security in Arlington, VA. “We have not briefed the secretary of defense on any concepts. Until such time as that has happened and he has made a decision, I probably ought to let it alone.”

In Afghanistan, there are about 26,000 U.S. military, coalition and NATO forces, including between 300 and 400 Marines. In Iraq, there are about 178,500 U.S. and coalition troops, including about 25,000 Marines.
I still stand by my MEU assessment that I made on the 11th, though. They are a "theater" asset after all - not an Iraq one.

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