Forlorn hope is an old military term that was originally used to describe the first wave of soldiers attacking a breach in siege defences during with the intention of either gaining a foothold or making progress easier for a second assault. If you were part of a forlorn hope the chances were that you would not survive but if you did and you were seen to have fought courageously then it would guarantee advancement.
In time the expression was used to describe any soldiers placed in an extremely dangerous position. President Bush looks set to announce shortly the deployment of a forlorn hope of up to 30,000 in Iraq as part of a crackdown against insurgents and the largely Shia death squads.
His new strategy focuses mainly on stabilising Baghdad through the deployment of five extra US brigades (increasing the US presence from 140,000 to up to 170,000) which will be made available by extending tours of duty and accelerating the rotation of fresh troops into the country. In addition, the US will provide additional resources for job a job creation programme mainly to paint schools and clean streets.
Bush's plan is a rejection of the Iraq Study Group report and looks likely to precipitate a battle between with Congress. It looks for all the world like his final drink in the Last Chance Saloon. Given that previous strategies have been a failure, increasing troop numbers for one last big push will probably achieve nothing. It is long past the time that the US government (and our government) stopped believing harder in a victory in Iraq and started working on withdrawal.
Iraq forlorn hope