Tag Archives: Petraeus

Gneeral Petraeus Predicts Troop Withdrawal

General Petraeus who is in charge of US troops fighting in Iraq told the Senate Armed Services Committee it might be possible sometime this fall to reduce the size of forces in Iraq by as much as an entire brigade. He said violence had declined to its lowest level in almost four years and there were hopes Iraqi soldiers could assume greater responsibilities in their nation for maintenance of security. General Petraeus is slated to become the nw U.S. Central Command chief while General Ray Odieno replaces him as commandere of Mutli-National Forces-Iraq. After withdrawal of the brigade, General Petraeus expects at least 140,000 troops to remain in Iraq dealing with security issues.

There is no question violence has declined in Iraq, but the uncertain factor is whether militant forces are waiting for some Americans to depart before resuming their attacks on the much less able forces of the Iraq army. Another factor that must be considered is growing concern for the situation in Afghanistan which already has required dispatch of 3,000 Marines for combat roles

Senator McCain Confused About Middle East!

Senator John McCain insists his military experience fits him for the presidency unlike his Democratic opponents who have never served in the armed forces. Apparently, this vast military expertise of McCain somehow got a bit confused about what was said during recent Congressional hearings with General Petraeus. Speaking yesterday at a press meeting, he was asked if he would shift troops from Iraq to Afghanistan in order to find Osam bin Laden and he replied: “I would not do that unless General Petraeus said he felt that the situation called for that.” However, during his Congressional testimony General Petraeus made clear he had nothing to do with such a decision because his responsibilities only include Iraq and had nothing to do with Afghanistan.

Of course on a recent trip to Israel, Senator John McCain got confused and accused Shiite Iran of working with the Sunni al-Qaeda until his colleague, Senator Joseph Lieberman whispered in his ear his comment was incorrect.

John McCain insists he knows a great deal about military strategy but apparently left the hearings early to deal with more important matters such as securing votes for November’s election. The senator did admit our nation needs more soldiers and promised if elected president to inspire youth to join the military with the same spirit they joined the Peace Corps. If Senator John McCain can “inspire” thousands of young Americans to risk their lives fighting for their nation maybe he can “inpsire” businessmen to pay higher taxes in order to pay the costs of the war. Of course, Senator McCain has made clear inspiration should never be asked when it comes to paying a fair share of taxes. Such talk can cut off funding from the business community.

Petraeus Now Claims Force Reduction Will Occur

General Petraeus told Military Times editors there would be a reduction in the number of troops in Iraq as a result of reducing the number of troops in certain areas. “The concept is to thin our forces out rathr than to hand off.” His plan is to retain small outposts of cmbat soldieers by improving the security of these bases which he hopes would allow reduction in the number of troops in Iraq to about 120,000 by the fall. An important component of the plan is to use brigade headquarters as the transition point from emphasizing military operations to one in which there is also a shift to local projects that will ensure stability. This interview took place after General Petraeus attempted, with limited success, to sell his ideas to a rather skeptical Congress.

Secretary of Defense Gates and Petraeus told Congress there was need for a pause in order to evaluate the possibility of reducing the number of troops in Iraq but in this interview the Iraq war commander apparently has plans for reducing the number of troops. Some Democratic senators were concerned at the use of the word “reversible” which appears to reflect the fragility of “success” of the surge. They are concerned about the rise in casualties during recent days which witnessed the most bloody week in Iraq in months and the loss of 19 American lives as well as woundng of dozens.

Geneeral Petaeus told Congress, “we haven’t turned any corners. We haven’t seen any lights at the end of the tunnel, the champagne bottle has been pushed to the back of the refrigerator.” His metaphor reflect a basic problem with the Petraeus report. “Victory” in Iraq is more of an economic/political change than a military solution. As of this point there has not been much, if any, of an improvement in the political situation in Iraq.

No Yellow Brick Road To Peace In Iraq Claims Petreaus

General David Petreaus told a congressional committee he wanted a 45 day moratorium on withdrawal of American forces from Iraq once the surge concludes. “At the end of that period, we will commence a process of assessment to examine the conditions on the ground and, over time, determine when we can make recommendations for further reductions.” He urged the need for flexibility so that his command can make necessary adjustments in light of the situation in Iraq. As Senator Levin noted, “what you’ve given to your chain of command is a plan which has no end to it.”

The reality is that each month since January has witnessed an ever increasing rise in the number of American soldiers killed and wounded as well as Iraq civilians. Although Ambassador Crocker argues there is steady improvement in Iraq’s government, there is absolutely no evidence Prime Minister Maliki has won over the Sunni population, let alone Shiite militants such as the Mahdi militia of Muqtada al-Sadr. The political situation is at a stalemate.

General Petraeus is an honorable man who seeks to win a war, but neither he nor the Bush administration has any comprehension as to the meaning of “win the war.” Has anyone clearly defined the meaning of “winning?” Unlike, in most wars America has fought, the government was clear about war aims, but the Bush administration has never gotten past rhetorical statements of “victory.”

Perhaps, it is time to review possibilities of a three nation solution in which the Sunnis have their own government, the Shiites have a government, and everyone finally admits the Kurds have a functioning government that has no need of anything to do with Iraq. A three nation solution at least defines clearly what constitutes victory.

$30 Billion Iraq Government-Succcess Or Failure?

As General Petraeus and Ambasador Crocker, prepare to offer their ideas on the past, present, and future of Iraq, some Democratic congressmen are raising questions about the famous surge. Senator Carl Levin of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, wants to know why the Iraq government has accumulated a sum of $30 billion which rests in US banks drawing interest while the American public is paying high prices for gasoline. “I want the details,” said Levin, “I’m going to be pressing the ambassador about the funding issues.” However, the main topic of discussion will center on the success or failure of the surge durng the past few months. Senator Joseph Biden of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wants to know: “Where are we after the surge? Back to where we were before it started, with 140,000 troops in Iraq and no end in sight?

Republican supporters of the surge argue the surge worked and fatalities are down. They point to examples of new legislation passed by the Iraq legislature and actions to confront violence by the government of Prime Minister Maliki. Or, as Biden raises, have we gone “from drowning in Iraq to treading water?” The Iraq government still requires the presence of 140,000 American troops despite five years of fighting.

In the end, the war in Iraq has always centered on political issues, not military. The Maliki government has failed to win the trust or support of Sunni members of their nation and divisions within the predominant Shiites continue to divide the country. Until those factors are addressed, fighting will continue in Iraq.

Not Homeward Bound Says Petraeus

The top US military commander in Iraq will ask President Bush to wait until as late as Depatember to decide when to bring home more troops than already scheduled. General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are supposed to tell Congress next month their recommendations for how many soldiers will be returned home. Petraeus has ben talking about a “period of assessment” which would provide a clearer indication as to how many members of the military could safely be returned. An official who briefed reporters at the White House said Petraeus was talking about a four to six week additional period of waiting before he could make final recommendations.

Secretary of Defense Gates has also indicated he savors suspension in withdrawal plans. Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently commented; “We don’t know how long the pause is going to last.”

The unspoken words about withdrawal of troops from Iraq is whether or not there might be additional need for troops in Afghanistan. Several European nations have indicated growing weariness with the apparent confused campaign in Afghanistan and might withdraw troops. There are reports the German parliament will refuse to extend the commitment of 3,000 German troops. What then? Will American troops take their place?

A Pause To Regroup Or Reduce?

The Bush administration is sending strong signals that U.S. troop reductions in iraq will be slowed down or halted in the coming months, a move that would jeopardize hopes of relieving strain on the Army and Marine Corps and revive debate over an open-ended Americ an commitment in Iraq. This move is in response to pressure from military commanders in Iraq who fear any further reduction in the size of their forces would reverse the success they have achieved over the past few months in dealing with terrorism. General Petraeus is to report to the president and Congress in April about his recommendations regarding the size of US forces in the coming year. There are indications he believes it is best to halt further reduction and consolidate success. Bush emphasized in the State of the Union address he will base his decisions on recommendations of Petraeus.

A major problem is the uncertainty as to what will happen once the size of American forces in Iraq are cut back. Will the Sunni-led Awakening Movement be a factor in reducing insurgent attacks or will it become involved in fighting with Shiite troops who are loyal to the government?

An unknown factor in the coming year is the attitude of an incoming president in January, 2009. A President John McCain will undoubtedly continue the Bush policy of relying on recommendations of General Petraeus. A president Obama is probably the most difficult to gauge in terms of troop reductions.

Petraeus: Good News And Continuing News

Geneal Petraeus indicated there had been significant progress in reducing the al-Qaida presence in certain areas of Baghdad. Although there has been a reduction in violence, Petraeus indicated, al-Qaida remained a “very dangerous and very lethal enemy.” There were car bombings in Baghdad and ten tribal leaders, who had arrived in Baghdad for meetings regarding their efforts to cooperate with the US and the Iraq government, were kidnapped and most probably will meet with harm from al-Qaida. General Petraeus also noted in several provinces of Iraq although the violence has declined, there is an atmosphere in which a “focus on crime and on extortion has been ongoing.”

A major issue connected with the “surge” is how long will American forces remain in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq. A possibility for the reduction in violence may stem from al-Aqida remaining quiet in order to wait out the American departure before resuming their attacks.