The General as Salesman
Not surprisingly, Petraeus performed smoothly in his testimony to Congress. But an internal Pentagon report is expected to 'differ substantially' from his recommendations on withdrawal from Iraq, NEWSWEEK has learned.
NEWSWEEK has learned that a separate internal report being prepared by a Pentagon working group will “differ substantially” from Petraeus’s recommendations, according to an official who is privy to the ongoing discussions but would speak about them only on condition of anonymity. An early version of the report, which is currently being drafted and is expected to be completed by the beginning of next year, will “recommend a very rapid reduction in American forces: as much as two-thirds of the existing force very quickly, while keeping the remainder there.” The strategy will involve unwinding the still large U.S. presence in big forward operation bases and putting smaller teams in outposts. “There is interest at senior levels [of the Pentagon] in getting alternative views” to Petraeus, the official said. Among others, Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon is known to want to draw down faster than Petraeus.This is being driven in part by a question Petraeus said he couldn't answer:
WARNER: I hope in the recesses of your heart that you know that strategy will continue the casualties, stress on our forces, stress on military families, stress on all Americans. Are you able to say at this time, if we continue what you have laid before the Congress, this strategy, that if you continue, you are making America safer?The answer to that question in no and the Pentagon knows it. The Army and the Marine Corps are being destroyed by the war in Iraq. The US becomes more incapable every day of responding to another external threat.
PETRAEUS: Sir, I believe that this is indeed the best course of action to achieve our objections in Iraq.
WARNER: Does that make America safer?
PETRAEUS: Sir, I don't know actually. I have not sat down and sorted out in my own mind. What I have focused on and been riveted on is how to accomplish the mission of the Multinational Force in Iraq.