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It’s Official: Bush lays out withdrawal plans
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, March 14, 2006

As most anticipated, it looks like the major US troop withdrawls will begin at the end of this year:
President Bush vowed for the first time yesterday to turn over most of Iraq to newly trained Iraqi troops by the end of this year, setting a specific benchmark as he kicked off a fresh drive to reassure Americans alarmed by the recent burst of sectarian violence.

Bush, who until now has resisted concrete timelines as the Iraq war dragged on longer than he expected, outlined the target in the first of a series of speeches intended to lay out his strategy for victory. While acknowledging grim developments on the ground, Bush declared "real progress" in standing up Iraqi forces capable of defending their nation.
As Ralph Peters pointed out a week or so ago, the most underreported story of the Golden Mosque bombing was how the Iraqi security forces reacted. In a word, they reacted well. In terms of our involvement, that may indeed have been the turning point.

Bush made no committment to a date nor a number, but he has at least given a target date. In terms of a metric as to where the Iraqi forces need to be by then the only information in the article which addressed that point said:
How meaningful or achievable the president's new goal is seems uncertain. In the speech, Bush said Iraqi units today have "primary responsibility" over 30,000 square miles of Iraqi territory, an increase of 20,000 square miles since the beginning of the year. As a country of nearly 169,000 square miles, Iraqi forces would need to control about 85,000 square miles to fulfill Bush's target.
With relative peace in 14 of 18 provinces, it seems this is a possiblity by the end of the year. Additionally, information on the progress of Iraqi forces was addressed:
Bush said 130 Iraqi battalions are participating in the battle with radical guerrillas, with 60 units taking the lead, an increase from 120 battalions and 40 in the lead when he last delivered major speeches on Iraq at the end of 2005. But Democrats pointed out that a Pentagon report last month showed that the number of Iraqi units rated "Level 1," or fully independent of U.S. help, has fallen from one to zero.
Again, at least to me, the most important measure of the status of Iraqi forces is indicated by the Golden Mosque deployment. They're obviously getting there and doing so fairly quickly. If, as Peters reported, that was an all Iraqi operation involving 100,000 men, then there are far more than one battalion level 1 capable (a battalion being about 700 troops). The proof is that deployment.
 
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How meaningful or achievable the president’s new goal is seems uncertain. In the speech, Bush said Iraqi units today have "primary responsibility" over 30,000 square miles of Iraqi territory, an increase of 20,000 square miles since the beginning of the year. As a country of nearly 169,000 square miles, Iraqi forces would need to control about 85,000 square miles to fulfill Bush’s target.
These metrics are a bit misleading.

Most of the trouble happens in very specific areas of Iraq. Is he trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes with fancy sounding facts which mean little?

 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
As I pointed out, 14 of 18 provinces are mostly peaceful, so, if one wanted to, they could make the argument that this has already been accomplished.

What he’s talking about is how much of the territory in question is turned over to the exclusive control of Iraqi security forces. Thus far that’s 30,000 square miles (which, btw, would strongly suggest that there is more than one level 1 battalion out there despite reports to the contrary (Level 1 being the ability to conduct operations without coalition aid)).

And yes, as you point out, the trouble is in very specific areas (4 provinces). But unless the metric is "complete control" over all of Iraq, this one is as reasonable as any other.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
If we really do draw down in Iraq because the Iraqis are more-or-less in control, then there are two broadly different ways to look at it:

1. Even with continued violence, death rates are way down in Iraq since the days of Saddam, and there is a significant prospect for long term stability in a much more open society than any other in the Middle East. We’ll still have some troops there to deter the worst foreign threats to Iraq’s stability, and we’ll continue to have influence over that area to reduce the threats of Islamist terrorism. Overall, it’s been well worth it.

2. It’s evidence of the complete failure of the BushHitler regime, who wasted thousands of American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives in an ill-advised war that was badly run. Thank goodness Bush is finally admitting defeat before we lose any more lives.

Now obviously Howard Dean, Harry Reid, et.al. will do a variation on #2. The question is what our mainstream media outlets will do. Do we need to keep score to see which media outlets come down which way? I’m betting the New York Times and CNN go full throat for #2, the Washington Post and NBC do a wishy-washy mixture, eventually leaning to #2, and the Wall Street Journal and FoxNews go mostly #1, with a "some say" referencing #2.

Cheap prognosticating for a Tuesday morning, I admit.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
I’m guessing you’re pretty much right, Billy. CBS will do #2, ABC... does ABC still do news? I haven’t heard, well, ANYTHING about them in forever.
 
Written By: Dave
URL: http://
So the prez announced his plans with a drawl? No news there.
 
Written By: The Owner’s Manual
URL: http://gcruse.typepad.com
Seems to me I remember something about the Level 2 rated Iraqi forces being able to conduct ops on their own with Coaltion logistical support. I suspect the majority of those 100k troops put into the field would be in that category.
 
Written By: kalthalior
URL: http://
As I recall, the metrics for Level 1 units keeps rising as they get more to that level, regarding quality and quantity of supplies, support, capability, and so forth. Thus every so often the number of ’Level 1’ units drops precipitously, then slowly climbs.
 
Written By: Dave
URL: http://
Seems to me I remember something about the Level 2 rated Iraqi forces being able to conduct ops on their own with Coaltion logistical support. I suspect the majority of those 100k troops put into the field would be in that category.
I suspect you’re right. If you recall, late last year military leaders pointed out that tactically the training of Iraqi security forces was going well. They then made the point that most of their effort this year was going to be pointed at standing up the command, control and logistics support elements of the force. Once that is done to our satisfaction, we’ll see the number of level 1 battalions increase dramatically.

Of course, many in the press who don’t understand that will automatically assume the books are being cooked in order to pull our forces out in a timely manner.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/

 
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