Montini Writes the Math of War is Fuzzy Math

On 21 January 2007, Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini wrote a column about an Arizona politician who uses numbers and ratios. According to Montini, "Usually, politicians avoid numbers. Numbers are so . . . exact. Even the people who want to be president have, for the most part, avoided numbers."

Montini reported that the Arizona politician wrote the following about U.S. troop levels in Iraq.

   "With the addition of 21,500 troops there will be approximately 
    150,000 troops in Iraq; a ratio of roughly one soldier for every 
    160 people country-wide. The U.S. Army Field Manual on 
    Counterinsurgency suggests a ratio of one soldier for 
    every 40-50 inhabitants. Tal Afar is widely cited as 
    a successful counterinsurgency operation. There we succeeded 
    with a soldier-to-population ratio of roughly one to 40."
Exercises
  1. Using the information given in this BAB, the approximate population of Iraq is ___________________ people.

  2. According to the CIA Fact Book at CIA.gov, Iraq had a population of 26,783,383 people. Using CIA data, 150,000 troops implies a _____:_____ soldier-to-population ratio.

  3. The U.S. Army Field Manual on Counterinsurgency suggests a ratio of one soldier for every 40-50 inhabitants. The average of 40 and 50 is 45. Using the CIA's population figure for Iraq along with a 1:45 soldier-to-population ratio, there could be _______________ in Iraq.

More... About Fuzzy Math

Montini ended his column with the following: "Either way, we get to savor, at least for a moment, a politician who isn't using what the president once described as fuzzy math."

The Wikipedia says fuzzy math is "Fuzzy math (also called "reformed math", "whole math", "constructivist math" or "new-new math") that emphasizes word problems and understanding the concepts behind mathematical operations, rather than rote memorization of arithmetic facts." In other words, learn the "ideas behind math, while leaving actual calculation to their calculators."


Creator: Gerald D. Thurman [gthurman@gmail.com]
Created: 21 January 2007

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