As they stand up, we'll stand down.--Dubya
I'm really, really curious as to how the Cut-and-Run Coalition--the Democrats--are going to spin things when the Iraqis stand up in significantly larger numbers and we in turn begin standing down. How are they going to spin the eventual success away? What will Howard Dean over at al-Ja-yeehaw! have to say after going on the record as stating we can't possibly win in Iraq? And what of John Kerry, the "decorated veteran" that never wasted a single opportunity to caste aspirtions upon the behavior of his own troops? What's that oaf going to have to say then? We would have won much faster and with less casulaties if our troops hadn't terrorized Iraqi women and children. Something along those feeble lines?
December 7, 2005
What's Next in Iraq?
By Jack Kelly
Critics of the war in Iraq say there is nothing new in the "National Strategy for Victory" President Bush outlined at the Naval Academy last week. This is one of the rare instances where critics of the war in Iraq have gotten something right.
I read carefully both the 35-page document prepared by the National Security Council and the text of President Bush's speech outlining it, and found in them nothing I didn't already know. This is what I expected. One shouldn't change a sound strategy when it is clear it is bearing fruit. All that's happening is that the president finally is explaining his strategy to the American people.
When can most of our troops come home? The short answer is: when Iraq has a stable, democratic government capable of defending itself.
So when will that be? Pretty soon. There need not be a significant weakening of the resistance before there can be a substantial withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The key to the U.S. security strategy is to create Iraqi army and police units of sufficient size and quality to be able to protect the country (mostly) by themselves. As the president put it in earlier contexts: "As they stand up, we'll stand down."
The Iraqi army will be "built out" (reach the size planned for it) by May or June of next year, and the Iraqi police are slated to be "built out" early in 2007.
Despite a large number of casualties from terrorist attacks, there's been no shortage of recruits for the Iraqi army and police. Though performance has sometimes been spotty, for the most part Iraqi soldiers perform well in combat. "A year ago, (insurgents) freely attacked the Iraqi military," said Army Brigadier Gen. Daniel Bolger, who is in charge of training Iraqi soldiers. "So the hostiles have resorted to remote bombings because they cannot stand and fight the Iraqi soldiers anymore."
The security situation is much improved over a year ago, said Steve Southerland, a retired Air Force officer now working as a civilian contractor in Iraq. "I have been here nearly 14 months, Steve said in an email to me. "When I arrived I was greeted by no less than 5-18 mortar attacks per day at Camp Anaconda (in Baghdad). The International zone was no better. All that has changed. We actually see people walking their pets on the streets and the mortar and rocket attacks are extremely rare."
The security situation has improved chiefly because there are now so many Iraqi troops in the field. The president said 80 Iraqi battalions (500-800 men each) are now in the fight, and 3,500 new police officers are being trained every 10 weeks.
The increasing number and skill of the Iraqi soldiers and cops means that they can garrison communities once they have been cleared of insurgents.
"Clear and hold" is having a powerfully deleterious effect on the resistance, because it means the terrorists (largely) are unable to recover lost ground. The harmful effect on the resistance will multiply in the months to come, as more Iraqi units join the fight, and existing units gain more experience.
Currently, there are about 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, up from 137,000 to provide additional protection for the referendum on the constitution in October (which proceeded almost without incident), and for the election for a permanent government under that constitution scheduled for Dec. 15th. A few weeks after that election is over and a new government is formed, troop levels will drop back to the 137,000 level, probably a little further. More reductions -- to or just a little more than 100,000 troops -- will be made once the Iraqi army is "built out" in May or June.
The role of the U.S. forces that will remain in Iraq will change. Iraqis will take the lead in fighting and patrolling, with U.S. forces as backup. Most of the bases from which U.S. troops currently are operating will be turned over to the Iraqis.
Currently, only one Iraqi army battalion is considered capable of operating entirely on its own. The others rely on Americans for fire (artillery and air) support, logistical support, and some intelligence support.
It will take a few years to build up support units in the Iraqi military. But most U.S. combat units likely will be out of the country by the end of 2007, sooner if the resistance continues to weaken at the rate it has in the last several months.
The war in Iraq is being won everywhere except in the news coverage of it. The president must continue speaking out. The people aren't going to get the truth unless he tells it.
Jack Kelly is national security columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Blade of Toledo, Ohio.
Sorry, but for those of you who tend to read only that which reinforces your pre-disposed position the Democrats repeated over and over again, most of what that story alludes to is not news. And it's not news to anyone toiling away on Capitol Hill, either. In fact, very many of our elected folks have been thoroughly briefed on all of that by Pentagon employees for some time now.
Yep. For quite some time now, the plan was that the Iraqis should be ready to start assuming a much greater share of the security duties on the ground right around the same time (December 15, 2005) the Iraqi's finally elected their own government. Yet, the Democrats have stuck with the always-screeching party line being that there was no plan in place, and we needed to redeploy our troops. You know, quit. Run away from a fight. Explain it another way, why don't you.
And that's why Nancy Pelosi's plan to have John Murtha, a supposedly above reproach decorated combat veteran, to launch into his ill-advised immediate pullout hissy fit will come back to haunt him. Like his counterparts, he knew the Pentagon was planning to stand down in a big way in '06, but he went partisan and then some on us anyway. Why? Because winning the mid-term elections in '06 is far, far more important to the Democrats that winning in Iraq, or telling the truth at this crucial crossroad of the drawn-out Iraq conflagration.
And they call Bush a chimp?
If I were a blogger that leans heavily in the direction of the Cut-and-Run Coalition--the Democrats--I'd be giving some serious thought to parsing my words, and tempering the anti-Bush rhetoric so as to not be so completely embarrassed when the Iraqis finally take back their country from the insurgents--who ever they are.
The largest obstacles our boys and girls in uniform have been facing are things like trying to win the hearts and minds, trying to avoid collateral damage, and trying to be politically correct, all while being shot at non-stop by a faceless enemy and the Democratic party.
But when the Iraqis become sufficiently strong enough to defend their own towns, their own neighborhoods and their own families--all bets, all shackles will be off. In other words, they won't be hamstrung by any willy-nilly politically correct constraints. They will seek and destroy with reckless abandon those who choose to continue to tear at the fabric of their lives. And they will demand that the U.S. troops, sans support units, go back home where they belong. And the Democrats will be scrambling to explain why they were wrong, wrong and wrong some more.
In the end, 'Staying the course' will prove to be the correct course of action. And that oft-screamed for policy of cutting and running away will only re-cement the well-entrenched perception the voters have about Democrats being weak on national defense.
Still excited about those mid-term elections?
Gaining Ground: Clear Progress in Iraq
Dec 5, 2005
by Peter Brookes
The "Cut and Run Crowd" are proving to be the worst kind of pessimists on Iraq - refusing to see the significant evidence that things are starting to go our way militarily.
No, no one should be turning cartwheels just yet over security and stability in Iraq - there is still a lot to be done. But several favorable developments should make even the "Doom-n-Gloomers" take note.
The U.S. military is having significant success securing the Syrian border - previously a sieve for Iraqi and foreign insurgents/ terrorists seeping into Iraq. Result: It's tougher for Syria-based Sunni insurgents to orchestrate or support attacks in Iraq. Suicide bombings are down 30 percent since the October referendum.
International pressure on the Syrian regime - including the possibility of punitive U.N. economic sanctions over the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri - may also be "encouraging" Damascus to decrease its support for the Iraqi insurgency.
Abu Musab al Zarqawi's cast of al Qaeda killers seems to be in increasing disarray. Recent intelligence reports suggest near-mutiny in al Qaeda's ranks - most likely thanks to U.S. forces capturing/killing operatives in large numbers, cash crunches and an influx of "green" recruits.
The American military's new "Clear, Hold and Build" strategy is plainly putting the squeeze on al Qaeda. It improves upon the "Whack a Mole" (i.e., random search-and-destroy) strategy by establishing a permanent Iraqi security presence that makes it harder for the insurgents to return once they've been evicted.
Still, some Iraqis continue to sign on to become suicide bombers - still the most deadly form of attack in Iraq. While locals can often readily discern foreign terrorists/fighters, it's much harder to disrupt attacks by native Iraqis.
Some Sunnis - insurgents, supporters and intermediaries - are coming to the table to talk with the Iraqi government and U.S. forces about ways to end the conflict. Not surprisingly, one of the major issues is an American withdrawal, which is obviously in the cards at some appropriate point in the future.
Negotiating a phased - not immediate - withdrawal of Coalition forces based upon the Sunni insurgents' cessation of hostilities could be a win-win situation. In a best-case scenario, after reaching an agreement, Iraqi and Coalition forces would turn their attention to crushing the remaining al Qaeda elements in the country.
It's even conceivable that marshalling Iraqi and Coalition forces against the foreign terrorists could make Iraq al Qaeda's last stand. A high-visibility defeat for Zarqawi would be a severe blow to al Qaeda's prestige as a movement - hindering operations, fund-raising and most importantly, recruitment.
Zalmay Khalizad, America's highly capable ambassador to Iraq, is opening quiet talks with the neighboring Iranians, who have been causing significant trouble in Iraq. Getting Tehran to drop its support for the insurgency - which includes weapons, training and financing - would go a long way toward ending the death and destruction.
The training of Iraqi security forces (e.g., police, military and intelligence) is increasingly effective and (finally!) making headway. This is not only important for short-term dealings with the terrorists, but also for providing for Iraq's long-term national defense against the likes of Iran and Syria.
As President Bush said last week, more than 30 Iraqi Army battalions are controlling their own areas of operation, including some of the toughest Baghdad streets. The Pentagon says more than a dozen military bases have been turned over to the Iraqis, including a former Saddam Hussein palace.
If political/economic progress persists, and security trends continue along these lines, it's very likely that the American force level in Iraq will be able to shrink to 50,000-75,000 troops by next summer. (It will be necessary to keep more troops in the neighborhood to allow a U.S. "surge capability" in case it's needed.)
Next week's historic elections will put more wind in the sails of the new Iraqi ship of state.
The United States and Iraq still have to navigate dangerous insurgent shoals, and maneuver a course around tricky political, economic and social buoys for a while yet. But we're plotting a course for total victory in Iraq, and as hard as it is for the Nervous Nellies and Henny Pennies to swallow, the bottom line is that the security situation in Iraq is showing a lot of promise. The nattering nabobs of negativism shouldn't be afraid to acknowledge it.
Brookes is author of A Devil's Triangle: Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Rogue States.
From 365 and a Wakeup:
New Set of Wheels
During our last patrol through the shantytowns a young mother waited patiently outside the bustling throng of children hopping back and forth between our vehicles. I don’t remember seeing her arrive, she just suddenly appeared on the outskirts of the roiling flock of children. In that sea of motion she stood as still and resolute as a obsidian tower, her black burkha providing a mute contrast to the gaudy kaleidoscope of children’s clothing. She was clutching a toddler tightly to her chest, and I reflexively assumed she was trying to secure some candy for her child. I watched her for a moment and sensed that she was too proper to approach and ask for treats. I made a mental note to hand her some candy once the throng had died down, and put a few pieces of candy into my pocket to pass to her later. Then I turned my attention back to the happy shrieks of the children vying for our attention, and finished passing out the remaining supplies
Once our vehicles were stripped of humanitarian supplies the children started to settle down, happily splitting off to try to wheedle more candy from their favorite soldier. As the children filtered off I got my first good look at the young boy she held to her chest. And it was only then that I realized she hadn’t come here to ask for candy.
The young boy was clearly suffering from a congenital birth defect - he looked as frail as spun glass. His slender, atrophied limbs seemed to hang off his little body like limp banners, and his oversized head rested on his mother’s chest as if he needed help supporting its bulk. As I approached I greeted the sad eyed mother, and then bit the inside of my mouth and waited for her to ask me for the medical help I knew I couldn’t provide. The mother spent several minutes explaining her sons medical condition, and then asked the question that I knew was coming - “You have helped fix some children – can you help my son?”. I already knew the answer, but to avoid appearing callous I called my medic over and asked him if there was anything we could do...
(Note: This blog direct from Iraq rules)
Now you know.
Thank you for pointing out the heinous error of my ways. As far as the evil one, Kevin, is concerned, I promise to faithfully attend mass on Sundays if you can see to it that his eternal damnation somehow gets inflated. You got connections?
Then again, where is Hell located anyway? Somebody once told me Hell is located somewhere in Texas. 'Iffin that's true all y'all, and Hell sits in the center of a 'dry' county, Kevin couldn't possibly suffer any worse damnation than spending eternity without a clear path to the sudsy yellow nozzle, or something thereabouts. Does Hell have an open bar, or not?
Please, I beg of you. I seek guidance.
I missed the big Colin Powell appearance at the Kirby last night. Hey! Family sh*t happens.
Sucks, though. I figured there'd be a Q&A session, and I so wanted to ask him his opinion of The Pentagon's New Map. Oh, well.
Still excited about those mid-term elections?