New Strategy for War Stresses Iraqi Politics
U.S. Aims to Oust Sectarians From Key Roles
Top U.S. commanders and diplomats in Iraq are completing a far-reaching campaign plan for a new U.S. strategy, laying out military and political goals and endorsing the selective removal of hardened sectarian actors from Iraq's security forces and government.About the only thing the various sects, tribes and ethnic groups can agree on is the desire to have the US out of their country. From all appearances Exxon and Cheney's oil sharing legislation is going no where.
The classified plan, scheduled to be finished by May 31, is a joint effort between Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior American general in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker. More than half a dozen people with knowledge of the plan discussed its contents, although most asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it to reporters.
The overarching aim of the plan, which sets goals for the end of this year and the end of 2008, is more political than military: to negotiate settlements between warring factions in Iraq from the national level down to the local level. In essence, it is as much about the political deals needed to defuse a civil war as about the military operations aimed at quelling a complex insurgency, said officials with knowledge of the plan.
Meanwhile we hear that Bush is planning to double the number of combat troops by the end of the year.
The little-noticed second surge, designed to reinforce U.S. troops in Iraq, is being executed by sending more combat brigades and extending tours of duty for troops already there.I guess they were hoping that no body would notice that they were about to destroy the US military for generations. This should make for some interesting times in the House and the Senate when they start debating the military appropriations bill in September. Will the Republicans continue to follow Bush over the electoral cliff?
The actions could boost the number of combat soldiers from 52,500 in early January to as many as 98,000 by the end of this year if the Pentagon overlaps arriving and departing combat brigades.
Separately, when additional support troops are included in this second troop increase, the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq could increase from 162,000 now to more than 200,000 -- a record-high number -- by the end of the year.