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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Is NO ONE sure how to deal with Iraq?

US Generals at Odds over Troop Drawdown Tempo

Strains between the Joint Chiefs... particularly between the chairman,
Adm. Michael Mullen and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, on one
side, and the Iraqi command headed by Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen.
Raymond Odierno, on the other.
Gen. Petraeus predicts the Iraq conflict, far from slowing down in the
second half of the US presidential year, will gain in fury just about
the time when a new US president takes office. He therefore advises
planning cutbacks after the July 2008 beyond the "red line" minimum of
130,000. Mullen and Casey want to hand the security package over to
the Iraqi army and other pro-US forces in Iraq, such as Sunni Arab and
Kurdish allies much sooner.

The two groups of military leaders differ over how to read the bottom
line of the intelligence assessments laid before them.
1. The generals on the spot see logistical preparations by Iraqi
insurgents and al Qaeda for transmuting their resistance model from
sporadic, terrorist-guerilla-type strikes against US forces to
organized military warfare. They are planning to build front lines on
territory they control or capture in different parts of Iraq as bases
for a war of attrition against the American army.
2. Al Qaeda, too, according to intelligence updates, has set itself
the goal of influencing the American presidential election by
intensifying its attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as the
November 4 voting day nears.
3. The Sunni Awakening Councils have several bones to pick with US
military and diplomatic leaders in Iraq. The members of these watch
groups are afraid of being left high and dry without a political
future for them and Iraq's Sunni Arabs as a whole after the phased
withdrawal of American forces from the country. They are demanding
Gen. Petraeus is convinced that when all these realities are factored
into the Iraq equation – plus the Iranian penetration, the reduction
of even the first five American brigades planned for July might be
foolhardy. Some might have to be brought back before year's end.
The generals of the Joint Chiefs argue back that US troops could be
trapped in Iraq indefinitely if all the potential paroxysms to which
Iraq is prey are taken aboard as Washington's responsibility.


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