'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, November 15, 2004

Hordes of Foreign Fighters 

During an "operational update" on Fallujah today, Colonel Michael Regner accidentally broke with the standard practice of military spokespeople of glibly reciting Pentagon talking points decorated with scientific-sounding military buzzwords without ever actually saying anything. He indirectly gave us an estimate on the number of Fallujah's mythical foreign fighters. Regarding the nationalities of the prisoners of war captured during Operation Phantom Fury Colonel Regner said

[The number of] our detainees not too long ago this afternoon was right about 1,052. I think we're a little bit over that as we continue to progress through the evening. [ ... ] Predominantly, however, most of the 1,052 are in fact Iraqis. But there are individuals that are from different countries [ ... ] We can't really identify all of those, but some of our Iraqi brethren which are helping out in this joint effort are saying this guy is clearly from -- let's just say Syria; this individual here is from another country. And so they're helping out. But at this time, out of 1,052 most likely about 1,040 -- or 1,030 are Iraqis.

So 1,030 and 1,040 are approximately 98% and 99% of 1,052, meaning 1% or 2% were non-Iraqis. If we assume that Fallujan prisoners of war are representative of the Fallujan insurgents as a whole, which the Pentagon numbered at 2,000 to 3,000, that gives us a range of between 20 and 60 foreign fighters present in Fallujah during the run-up to the assault. I guess 20 to 60 guys can qualify as "hordes"? Or maybe the hordes of foreign fighters in Fallujah are the ones wearing the American uniforms?

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