Given the widespread loss of security in Iraq, nothing less than a full-blown combat force is sufficient if the U.S. needs to conduct a non-permissive evacuation of our citizens. Although we have the forces available, between the military services – the Army in Kuwait, the Air Force in Qatar, the Navy and Marine Corps afloat and in Bahrain – we appear to be reacting, instead of preparing, with too little, too late.
Certainly, we aren’t alerting or moving a force sufficient to assist Iraq or influence developments in country. We have considerable scope for assistance without preemptive intervention: i.e., without taking over the defense of Iraq. We shouldn’t do the latter. People will have differing opinions on how much of the former we should do. But the blunt reality is that the situation is moving much faster than we are. Reacting today with a force that might have made a difference 10 days ago could even be worse than useless.