View Full Version : The New Plan for Iraq

01-11-2007, 06:47 AM
Bush Adds Troops in Bid to Secure Iraq (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/11/world/middleeast/11prexy.html?hp&ex=1168578000&en=11cd4fdcb960957e&ei=5094&partner=homepage) - NY Times.

President Bush embraced a major tactical shift on Wednesday evening in the war in Iraq when he declared that the only way to quell sectarian violence there was to send more than 20,000 additional American troops into combat.

Yet in defying mounting pressure to begin troop withdrawals, the president reiterated his argument that the consequences of failure in Iraq were so high that the United States could not afford to lose.

In a speech to the nation, Mr. Bush conceded for the first time that there had not been enough American or Iraqi troops in Baghdad to halt the capital’s descent over the past year into chaos. In documents released just before the speech, the White House acknowledged that his previous strategy was based on fundamentally flawed assumptions about the power of the shaky Iraqi government...

Bush to Add 20,000 Troops In an Effort to Stabilize Iraq (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/10/AR2007011002437.html) - Washington Post.

President Bush appealed directly to the American people last night to support a renewed campaign to pacify Iraq, saying it is necessary to add new troops so that the beleaguered Iraqi government can regain control of the streets of Baghdad and revive the process of political reconciliation and economic rebuilding.

In a nationally televised address, Bush acknowledged for the first time that he had not sent enough troops to provide security in Iraq last year. Standing in the library of the White House, he described the situation in Iraq as "unacceptable" to the American people and to himself. "Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do," he said. "Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."...

Intensified Combat on Streets Likely (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/10/AR2007011002581.html) - Washington Post.

President Bush's plan to send tens of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi reinforcements to Baghdad to jointly confront Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias is likely to touch off a more dangerous phase of the war, featuring months of fighting in the streets of the Iraqi capital, current and former military officials warned.

The prospect of a more intense battle in the Iraqi capital could put U.S. military commanders in exactly the sort of tough urban fight that war planners strove to avoid during the spring 2003 invasion of the country. The plan to partner U.S. and Iraqi units may compel American soldiers to rely on questionable Iraqi army and police forces as never before. And while the president insisted there is no timetable associated with the troop increase, military officials said sustaining it for more than a few months would place a major new strain on U.S. forces that already are feeling burdened by an unexpectedly long and difficult war...

Bid to Secure Baghdad Relies on Troops and Iraqi Leaders (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/11/world/middleeast/11military.html) - NY Times.

With his new plan to secure Iraq, President Bush is in effect betting that Iraqi leaders are committed to building a multisectarian state, and his strategy will stand or fall on that assumption.

The plan differs in several respects from the faltering effort to bring stability to Baghdad that began last summer. It calls for a much larger American force. There are to be no havens for renegade militias. And, importantly, Iraqi security forces throughout the city are to be put under the direct control of a new Iraqi commander -- and backed by American Army battalions. But the new plan depends on the good intentions and competence of a Shiite-dominated Iraqi government that has not demonstrated an abundant supply of either....

Bush’s Strategy for Iraq Risks Confrontations (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/11/washington/11assess.html?hp&ex=1168578000&en=cd8b0a3a2added58&ei=5094&partner=homepage) - NY Times.

By stepping up the American military presence in Iraq, President Bush is not only inviting an epic clash with the Democrats who run Capitol Hill. He is ignoring the results of the November elections, rejecting the central thrust of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group and flouting the advice of some of his own generals, as well as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq.

In so doing, Mr. Bush is taking a calculated gamble that no matter how much hue and cry his new strategy may provoke, in the end the American people will give him more time to turn around the war in Iraq and Congress will not have the political nerve to thwart him by cutting off money for the war...

Democrats Aim to Block Funds for Plan (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/10/AR2007011002613.html) - Washington Post.

Senior House Democrats said yesterday that they will attempt to derail funding for President Bush's proposal to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq, setting up what could become the most significant confrontation between the White House and Congress over military policy since the Vietnam War.

Senate Democrats at the same time will seek bipartisan support for a nonbinding resolution opposing the president's plan, possibly as early as next week, in what some party officials see as the first step in a strategy aimed at isolating Bush politically and forcing the beginning of a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from the conflict...

Video: The President's Address (javascript:pop_me_up2('http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/01/20070110-7.v.html',%20'400_340',%20'width=400,height=340,lo cation=no,scrollbars=yes,toolbars=no,resizable=yes ')) - President George W. Bush's 10 January 2007 address to the nation on the war in Iraq.

Announcing a New Iraq Policy (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/10/world/middleeast/20070111_IRAQSPEECH_GRAPHIC.html?_r=1&oref=slogin) - NY Times graphic on the major points of President Bush's plan for Iraq.

01-11-2007, 09:49 AM
Lots of news, editorials, commentary and blog coverage on the President's address and his new plan for Iraq at today's SWJ Daily News Links (http://smallwarsjournal.com/news/daily/070111.htm).

01-11-2007, 10:47 AM
From ZenPundit's blog - There's More Surging in DC Than Iraq (http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2007/01/theres-more-surging-in-dc-than-baghdad.html).

The President outlined his plan tonight, along the lines of the much discussed "surge" option. The comments required here on this plan can be brief and on the response by the Democratic Majority, I will get by with even less.

The President's intention to clear and secure Baghdad is a long overdue tactical move to address a problem that never should have occurred in the first place. In itself, this is appropriate and I have no doubt that, if it is planned and executed by the military without being required to cut operational corners to appease idiotic political concerns in Congress, they will succeed in doing so. Albeit with pockets of very bloody fighting with stay-behind suicide-terrorists (the al Qaida in Iraq leadership having long since decamped, no doubt). This will get the government of Iraq at least to the level of controlling its own capital city, most of the time.

The real question is more strategic: what do we have ready to implement as the next three steps after we " clear and hold"? This is the point of concern that will determine what progress, if any, becomes permanent. Simply buying time is not an appropriate answer. Changing the situation requires making very hard political choices in reference to Iraq's sectarian communities and regional diplomacy that "surging" will not allow the administration to ultimately escape. My vote is to throw in with the Kurds and cut a deal with the Shiites that creates a viable medium term, containment plan for an Anbar " Sunnistan" until the U.S. -backed tribals can chew up the nuttier elements. We don't need a city on the hill right now, just manageable levels of violence...

More at the link.

01-11-2007, 10:58 AM
From today's London Times - New U.S. General Will Copy British 'Softly-Softly' Style (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2541457,00.html) by Tim Reid.

The new US ground commander picked by President Bush to direct the military “surge” into Iraq believes that the war can be won with a radical change of tactics: those used by the British in Malaya and Ulster.

Lieutenant-General David Petraeus, handed perhaps the toughest US military assignment since the Vietnam War — to stabilise Iraq and defeat its militias — is one of the Army’s premier intellectuals and a devoted student of counter-insurgency techniques used by the British and French during the last century.

General Petraeus, who has spent 2½ of the past 4 years in Iraq, has been one of the few officers advocating a troop surge into Baghdad. He believes that a new approach, based on soldiers living and patrolling amid the population and co-opting local leaders, can halt the slide into chaos.

Having co-authored the US military’s counter-insurgency manual, General Petraeus believes that only by combining military strength and sensitive interaction with locals can an insurgency be defeated. He has been influenced by a study of the British in Malaya during the 1950s by John Nagl, a Pentagon official...

01-12-2007, 10:47 AM
'Unity of Command' (http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/dhenninger/?id=110009515) - 12 January Wall Street Journal commentary by Daniel Henninger.

Immediately after the president's speech, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, "I heard nothing new."

Nothing? When Gen. David Petraeus takes command of U.S. forces in Iraq, it will mark the start of an historic turn in military strategy in Iraq and perhaps in U.S. war-fighting doctrine.

The U.S.'s primary problem in Iraq, manifest across 2006, has been an urban insurgency in a 30-mile radius around Baghdad and in Anbar province. The Petraeus command is the overdue beginning of the counterinsurgency. This isn't a one-off effort as at Fallujah, but counterinsurgency as daily U.S. military policy. It is the product of an enormous amount of self-criticism and analysis done by military and civilian analysts in and out of government. It does not mean, as often suggested the past 24 hours, that 20,000 U.S. troops are now going to run out and look for gun battles with insurgents in back alleys...

01-17-2007, 02:27 PM
CSIS, 16 Jan 07: The New Bush Strategy in Iraq: Is Victory Still Possible? (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/070116_cordesman_bush_plan.pdf)

...The new Bush approach is considerably more sophisticated and comprehensive than the one the President could fit into his 20-minute address – which had been cut back from a longer 40-minute version. It combines political, military, and economic action in ways that do offer a significant hope of success. The following analysis examines the strengths and weaknesses of the proposals in the President’s speech in detail, but also adds important further details and clarifications by Secretary of State Rice, Secretary of Defense Gates, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Peter Pace.

A reading of these additional details is far more reassuring than the bare bones of the President’s speech, but it is clear that the new strategy and plan still do involve several critical risks, the most important of which are political and military.

The most critical such risk is that the success of his strategy depends on the cooperation of a weak and divided Iraqi government that may not agree with his desire to deprive Shi’ite militias of their growing power, on Iraqi forces that so far have shown little fighting capability and key elements of which are corrupt or allied with Shiite and Kurdish militias, and on the acceptance of a major US urban warfare campaign by a divided Iraqi people, many of which are hostile to the US and the presence of US forces....

01-17-2007, 08:05 PM
At the risk of sounding pessimistic, we could have all the resources and greatest strategy to defeat the insurgency, but there will be one small hiccup.

After years of repression and mistrust, do the Sunni, Shi'a, and Kurds have the capacity to "bury the hatchet" and at least move towards the path of national reconciliation?

I am not inclined to believe that defeating the insurgency means we have secured the future of Iraq. It all goes back to my points elsewhere about looking 5-10 years down the road. Are there any studies or forecasts out circulating out there that shows folks are putting thought to that problem?

01-17-2007, 08:14 PM
Hi JC,

At the risk of sounding pessimistic, we could have all the resources and greatest strategy to defeat the insurgency, but there will be one small hiccup.

After years of repression and mistrust, do the Sunni, Shi'a, and Kurds have the capacity to "bury the hatchet" and at least move towards the path of national reconciliation?

I certainly haven't seen any stuidies on this. I suspect that it *could* work, but is a fairly low probability.


Rob Thornton
01-18-2007, 06:24 AM
From JC
After years of repression and mistrust, do the Sunni, Shi'a, and Kurds have the capacity to "bury the hatchet" and at least move towards the path of national reconciliation?

I only see couple of ways to convince people and both of them begin with a requirement that an exceptable standard of living (circus tent of subjective stuff under that) be available for all, so that category of "survival" is removed. The quickest path I think means figuring out how to get what's underground out of the ground and converted to a better standard of living for all. Yes, there are allot of links in doing that from extraction to refinement to distribution to a system that disburses profits evenly without the skimming as it makes its way down the line. Once you get the basic needs met and convince people they have some hope of a better life, people are probably more willing to consider their differences over chai, vs. over a PKC. Iraq's petroleum and natural gas reserves are the most valuable resource in terms of guarenteed profits that could effect Iraq's situation across the board. You can bury allot of hatchets I've seen up here with $$$. It might not get to all the problems, it might even create a few others, but it would buy time to resolve some other things, some of which might get resolved on their own.

I beleive they have to convince themselves there is more benefit moving forward together then apart. That is going to be very hard for them to do. Baghdad has become such a flashpoint and media event, psychologically its effecting the whole region. Security there will dampen it I think and allow for feelings to subside outside of Baghdad at least.

The other way is burying the hatchet - just not in the dirt. Lots of that, I just wonder when or if they ever get tired of it? History says it could go on indefinetly. Makes you wonder if it were just Shiite, or just Sunni what the level of violence would be?

01-19-2007, 06:32 PM
There is a huge misunderstanding .... There's a belief that we have a defined enemy in Iraq, and that once you either put those folks in jail, or you kill them, or you secure the streets -- the fighting will just stop. That's simply not the case. There is a root cause of the insurgency in Iraq and it is not America, not religion, not terrorism, not race, not sectarian rifts, not lack of security.

Gen. Chiarelli's, in his Time Magazine article, eloquently says, "To think the security line alone is going to bring peace to Iraq, and solve the problems you see manifested in the streets of Iraq today, is absolutely foolhardy." We have seen that increased security alone is not the answer. Additional US forces only create a counter-productive confrontational environment. It further embeds in people's mind the notion of a police state and not a democracy.

On the political front, we have been working to create a democratic Iraq, but that is a goal, not a strategy. On the military front, we have sought to train Iraqi security forces and turn the war over to them. As President George W. Bush has stated, "Our strategy can be summed up this way: as the Iraqi security forces stand-up, we will stand down." But the president is describing a withdrawal plan rather than a strategy. So if Security Alone is not the strategy, then What Is That Elusive Iraq Strategy?

01-21-2007, 07:15 AM
Petraeus Time (http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009553)- Reuel Marc Gerecht, Wall Street Journal.

Can one back President Bush's new strategy in Iraq? Yes. For all its serious faults, his new approach is the first one since the fall of Baghdad to offer a chance to reverse the radicalization of Iraq. But it needs revision quickly.

Too much of this new plan leaves unchanged the disastrous approach of John Abizaid and George Casey, the two top generals on Iraq. The new offensive, assuming it doesn't peter out through a slow arrival of soldiers, or become enfeebled by "Iraqi leadership" in its execution, envisions a too-small U.S. force doing too much. Recent remarks by Defense Secretary Robert Gates--predicting troop reductions within a year, and saying that we might not need an additional five brigades in Baghdad for a successful operation--are a frightening echo of the self-defeating, undermanned optimism that came from the U.S. military under Mr. Gates's predecessor.

The good news is that by emphasizing a military, not political, strategy to diminish Iraq's debilitating violence, the president has correctly set aside one of the primary factors destroying the Shiite Arab center. While waiting for a "political solution" to the Sunni insurgency, we watched Shiite timidity and patience turn to anger--and to a revenge which now threatens the integrity of the Shiite-led Iraqi government. Gens. Abizaid and Casey had gambled that they could stand up an effective Iraqi military and police against the Sunnis before violence threatened everything in Baghdad. That bet collapsed with the destruction of the Shiite shrine in Samarra in February 2006--but the administration kept playing the same hand as if nothing had happened. The reversal of this soft-power, politics-not-troops mentality is an essential step forward...

Tom Odom
01-22-2007, 02:01 PM
The reversal of this soft-power, politics-not-troops mentality is an essential step forward......Nevertheless, there is a dismaying hesitancy in the military's and the White House's deliberations on this conflict. Although the president wants a new approach, the Pentagon, the State Department and even the National Security Council appear wedded to the past. The contradiction between what the president says and what his government does has never been greater. We need to move rapidly: The enemy is digging in and the drift to full-scale civil war is gaining speed....

Mr. Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

That says much about where this comes from. Most interesting is the use of "drift toward full-scale civil war"....nations/countries do not "drift" toward civil war; they may erupt but they do not drift.

Gerecht is essentially calling for a massive crackdown; given the numbers of troops avaliable and other factors, this is a waste of ink.


01-22-2007, 04:04 PM
I would say Gerecht is arguing not so much for a massive crackdown, but rather a massive U.S.-led effort to crush the Sunni insurgency and clear the decks for a religious Shia theocracy in Iraq led by the less anti-American Shia clerics selected by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (and perhaps even al-Sadr, if he refrains from too much anti-American activity by the looks of this article). Gerecht appears to believe that by doing this, we'll somehow split political Shiism so that Iran's leadership is marginalized (the whole depending on the Najaf quietists to fight our battle against the Qom Khomeinists idea), leading to pro-American factions in both Iran and Iraq.

I agree that this is largely a waste of ink.

01-22-2007, 05:36 PM
Counterinsurgency Takes Center Stage in Iraq (http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0122/p01s02-usmi.html) - Christian Science Monitor.

When Col. Ralph Baker commanded an Army brigade combat team responsible for a volatile area of Baghdad, he found that one of his most effective weapons was the handbill. That's right, handbills...

Fliers. Paper. In the United States, they're generally toss-aways, ads for hair salons or Chinese food. In Iraq, they can be an important way to disseminate information. The fliers helped drive a wedge between the insurgents and local residents, and they often resulted in intelligence that U.S. units could act upon, wrote Colonel Baker in a recent review of counterinsurgency techniques issued by the Army's Combined Arms Center...

Counterinsurgency is the graduate level of war, according to an officer quoted in the Army's new manual on the subject. It requires flexibility as much as force. Its objective is the population's support, not territory. And as the U.S. military prepares to implement President Bush's new strategy for Iraq, commanders may face the equivalent of trying to obtain a doctorate in six months. As they work with Iraqi partners of uncertain reliability, their task is to calm the near anarchy in much of Baghdad -- before popular support in the U.S. erodes further and Congress begins to press for troop withdrawal harder than it already has...

02-07-2007, 10:28 PM
On 5 Feb 07, CSIS updated the paper I linked to in my earlier post in this thread (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=8167&postcount=6):

The New Bush Strategy for Iraq: What are the Chances of "Victory"? (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/070205_cordesman_bush_plan.pdf)

02-12-2007, 02:58 PM
I think the Dems in power will attach cuts in funding to various bills and starve US forces out, like accumulating ticks on a dog that eventually weaken it. Pretareus and innovation aside, no cash, no go.

02-12-2007, 03:11 PM
Kind of a "I support the troops, but want to see them lose" sort of deal?

Yep, that's exactly what I see happening, also.

02-12-2007, 06:40 PM
Yup, 120 mm, you called it right. Ain't it amazing how all our professional, highly trained, motivated, disciplined, experienced, well equiped volunteer forces can be the victim of one man, George Bush? Our Legislators will kill them out of sympathy for their victimhood, diminishing operational capability by cutting funds which in turn increases the threat level and causality incidents. The SOBs will call them heroes, George's victims and justify the increased KIA/WIA rates to poor planning. I would assume their will be some attrition in the ranks of Officers once the dust is all settled and the 'victims' are home, which of course the SOBs will justify by claiming they were just saying NO to George Bush. It's enough to make a grown man vomit.

SSG Rock
02-16-2007, 02:13 PM
I'm going to keep this short. I'm seething with anger at the Democratic controlled Congress and their stupid, nonbinding vote.

I have maintained throughout this war that war opponents were hiding behind the inane statement "I support the troops but not the war". This lie is now fully exposed. It has been a disengenuous effort to create a "bulletproof" position in the debate, a stand that nobody could possibly disagree with. But it was a blatant lie and always was. The exposing of this lie began with Durbin and Murtha, and ended with Engle and Arkin, these people just can't keep their mouths shut, they always tip their hand sooner or later. This stupid, meaningless vote that does NOTHING to assist our troops is the icing on the cake. How far are we from witnessing the spectre of our troops being spat upon when they come home?

The Democratic leadership doesn't care about our troops. Rather, they care more about their political position than winning the war. With campaigning season rapidly approaching, they aim to please their anti war core first and foremost. But, I think it's safe to say, that the anti war voting block will be counter balanced somewhat by the military vote. I also think it's safe to say that there won't be many active duty voters, casting a vote for any Democrats after this surge vote. And I think that goes for military retirees as well. I know I wouldn't vote for a Democrat if you pulled my fingernails out.

I raise my glass to our troops, who continue to defy the odds, and to accomplish what the Democratic controlled congress has said is impossible. I raise my glass to our troops and their leaders who never waivered and who are now on the cusp of turning this thing around.

03-19-2007, 03:00 AM
CSIS, 14 Mar 07: The New Strategy in Iraq: Uncertain Progress Towards an Unknown Goal (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/070314_bushstrat_update.pdf)

...Just as the British confused Basra with a regional center of gravity, the Bush Administration may well have compounded these problems by confusing Baghdad with the center of gravity in a national struggle for the control of political and economic space that affects every part of the country. The Iraq Study Group report had many weaknesses, but it was all too correct in nothing that official US reporting on the patterns of violence in Iraq may reflect less than a 10th of the actual struggle, and much of this violence is outside Baghdad.

Winning security control of the city and losing Iraq’s 11 other major cities and
countryside to Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic factions is not victory in any strategic sense, it is defeat. As has been discussed earlier, the minimal requirement for a successful US strategy is a relatively stable and secure Iraq, not temporary US military control of Baghdad....