I guess another way of making the point below is that it remains unclear to me what purpose the current deployment in Iraq is supposed to serve. One purpose it seems to be serving is the general sense that if our soldiers just stay in Iraq, risking their lives carrying out arduous day-to-day tactical missions unrelated to any broader strategic objectives that conditions in Iraq might improve anyway, thus allowing the continued presence of a large American deployment to provide a patina of “victory” to the results. At any rate, via Ilan Goldenberg I see that the GAO is confused (PDF) to:
U.S. efforts lack strategies with clear purpose, scope, roles, and performance measures. The U.S. strategy for victory in Iraq partially identifies the agencies responsible for implementing key aspects of the strategy and does not fully address how the United States would integrate its goals with those of the Iraqis and the international community. U.S. efforts to develop Iraqi ministry capability lack an overall strategy, no lead agency provides overall direction, and U.S. priorities have been subject to numerous changes. The weaknesses in U.S. strategic planning are compounded by the Iraqi government’s lack of integrated strategic planning in its critical energy sector.
It’s hardly unheard of to see soldiers used, in essence, as props. It happens at sporting events frequently, and George W. Bush has developed a bad habit of using soldiers as backdrops for partisan political speeches. But to actually send over 100,000 into a combat zone while lacking “strategies with clear purpose, scope, roles, and performance measures” seems utterly unconscionable to me.