The Blog

Troop Strength

The president wants to cut U.S. forces in Iraq from 130,000 to 105,000. But the important question is, what kind of troops will be in Iraq this spring?

11:00 PM, Dec 4, 2003 • By CHRISTIAN LOWE
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The military is also sending over passive systems that can monitor large swaths of territory so troops can catch the guerrillas in the act. The forces arriving in March could see a string of aerostats--essentially gas-filled balloons with embedded high-tech cameras--floating alongside major highways and convoy routes in Iraq, keeping a wary, robotic eye on potential ambushes. The services have also turned to industry to help protect vehicles. Since not enough bullet-proof Humvee jeeps--what the troops term "up-armored"--can be built to outfit all units heading over, some companies are coming up with innovative ways to supplement the jeep's thin shell. One West Coast-based company has developed armor plates that can be stuck onto the outer panels of a Humvee with adhesives, forming a barrier than can protect against .50 cal machine gun rounds.

Despite the overwhelming firepower brought to bear by U.S. troops in Iraq, the trickle of American blood and treasure continues to seep from that war-torn land. But as the occupation slogs on and fresh troops head over to confront the insurgents and bring peace to the Iraqi people, they will be equipped with the tactics and training, the technology and equipment that will help keep them alive.