The Coalition’s 3 phase troop withdrawal plan for Iraq Posted by: McQ
on Sunday, June 25, 2006
Gen. George W. Casey Jr, the US commander in Iraq, has put forward a conditional 3 phase plan for withdrawing the bulk of coalition troops over the next 3 years. In brief, the phases of the plan are as follows:
In the general's briefing, the future American role in Iraq is divided into three phases. The next 12 months was described as a period of stabilization. The period from the summer of 2007 through the summer of 2008 was described as a time when the emphasis would be on the restoration of the Iraqi government's authority. The period from the summer of 2008 though the summer of 2009 was cast as one in which the Iraqi government would be increasingly self-reliant.
Phase I (2006-2007) Stabilization
Phase II (2007 - 2008) Restoration of Iraqi Govt authority
Phase III (2008-2009) Iraqi Self-reliance
How does that translate in the number of troops?
There are presently 14 combat brigades in Iraq. Figure 3,500 per brigade and you can do the math (it will also give you a good idea of the "teeth to tail" ratio). By September of 2006, this number will be down to 12 (two brigades which would normally be ready to rotate into the theater will see their deployment cancelled). However, a brigade will be kept on alert in Kuwait and another elsewhere (Okinawa? Just kidding). That will begin the Phase I reductions.
General Casey is anticipating, if stabalization proceeds as planned, to have that down to 10 in December of 2006 and to 7 or 8 brigades by June of 2007. Keep in mind the two reserve brigades remain in place and on call through out these phases. Additionally in Phase I, bases would be reduced from 69 to 57 in Dec. 2006 and down to 30 in June of 2007. These will be handed over to Iraqi forces.
What that obviously means is some of the support structure (that "teeth to tail" ratio I mentioned) will also be leaving Iraq.
Phase II will see further reductions in combat brigades and bases. Brigades will drop to 5 or 6 by Dec. 2007. Bases will further decline from 30 to 11 by that same date.
A reduction of eight combat brigades would shrink the number of combat forces by about 28,000 troops. But that does not mean that the reduction in the remainder of the force would be proportional. Troops would still be needed to deliver supplies and staff headquarters. Also, the American military would continue to help the Iraqis with logistics, intelligence, training and airstrikes.
That leaves 21,000 combat troops. Figure 2 to 1 as a rough "teeth to tail" ratio and you still will have about 60,000 troops in the theater at the end of 2007 (and the middle of Phase II).
Beyond the middle of Phase II, the planning is a little vague simply because certain milestones must be met to trigger further reductions. Milestones such as Iraqi forces successfully taking control of the provinces turned over to them and doing so without further coalition help.
The key to it all can be found in this statement:
But the reduction in combat brigades would have an importance beyond troop numbers. The American strategy is to gradually shift the responsibility for fighting the insurgency to the new Iraqi military and to encourage the Iraqi forces to secure the nation's territory. Arranging for the Iraqis to take on increasing combat role is the key to reducing the American military presence in Iraq.
That is already happening. So the end-game is afoot. There are plans both by the coalition and the Iraqi government to see significant troop reductions within the next 18 months. But they're still based on conditions. Phase I has the condition of stabalization. If that condition isn't met and that prevents us from moving into Phase II, then we're likely to see fewer than hoped for reductions in combat brigades.
All in all, however, even pessimists and war detractors can't help but see these plans for the end-game as positive and hopeful signs. Best case is that as the Iraqis step up more and more, this process will accelerate and we'll find ourselves looking at closing out this chapter of nation building sooner than the summer of '09.
The Iraqi plan is gradual, measured, and responsive to real, on-the-ground events.
To this American, it represents a workable framework for zipping up the new Iraqi nation, and getting on with the hard work of building a democratic, modern civil society within its borders.
OT, but I wonder how many days will pass before a prominent Democrat complains that this "Plan" is just his party’s "Redeployment Stategy" in Iraqi "drag."
Lacking any comprehensive "Plan" of their own, the Dem’s Iraq-strategy has been to guess at Bush’s strategies - then to preemptively suggest these strategies as though they were their own. This "I-told-you-so" tactic hopes to manufacture the appearance that Democratic Party suggestions are driving US policy in Iraq - not Iraq’s new leaders, George W. Bush’s administration and the U.S. legislature. -Steve
I see this proposed troop reduction plan as the catalyst for this week’s legislative debate over troop reductions.
The Pentagon gives the standing committees of Congress regular reports on activities and plans, which can tip off the politically astute to position themselves in days as the chief architect of a plan that took months of planning and negotiating to develop.
The Democrats know that the situation in Iraq has gotten to the point where some number of troops can be drawn down. The ultimate question is who will get credit for bringing (some of) the troops home?
Like the kid’s story of the "Little Red Hen" while some were not willing to shoulder any responsibility for "planting the wheat," "harvesting the wheat," or "milling the wheat", there are many fathers to the notion of "eating the bread."
The Democrats know that the situation in Iraq has gotten to the point where some number of troops can be drawn down.
You’re exactly right and your point has merit. This information was recently briefed to them (and I posted some of it) in May. Kerry, for instance, may have gotten wind of Casey’s plan and thus the adjustment to July 2007 instead of Dec 2006. What indeed may be emerging is the realization on the left that Iraq may succeed and the further realiztion that it is now time to position one’s self politically to benefit from it.
The ultimate question is who will get credit for bringing (some of) the troops home?
Precisely and that is why these plans are interesting, coming out now. It will make it more difficult for the Dems to claim credit.
Where to start on this story? McQ, of course, uncritically accepts so much that one wonders if he is from the Armstrong Williams/Maggie Gallagher school.
I read the NYT article. My first complaint is this: The source for the story is a White House official. So where is the outrage?
The post on this site prior to this post analyzed the disclosure of classified information and the propriety of such a disclosure.
And yet, here we have a White House official discolsing a troop withdrawal plan that has not been officially announced. Time and again, wingers have yelled that we cannot tell the enemy anything about any withdrawal plans lest the enemy would exploit such information.
And yet, here is the White House announcing such plans, anonymously, thru an unacredited source. And so where are the complaints about tipping off the enemy. In a word, there are none.
And here is McQ’s response:
Precisely and that is why these plans are interesting, coming out now. It will make it more difficult for the Dems to claim credit.
mcQ and his ilk do not concern themselves with the secuirty of the United States, or winning this war, or anything that civic. The only concern is maintaining power. That is it.
Every day that goes by makes one thing more apparent: The wingers in this country don’t care about winning; they only care about not losing. It is not about what the right strategy is in Iraq. It is about whether the Dems could ever claim credit for the right strategy.
Cynical? Yes. Surprisiing? Hardly. Too bad American boys have to die in the process.
My prediction is that Iraq will end up with a low level insurgeny for many years to come until it peeters out. However, that’s not as abnormal situation for many countries. Even strong democracies like India and Colombia have insurgencies.
I still don’t know why Iraq doesn’t implement and oil trust - nothing convinces people to stop fighting their government than monthly checks in the mail.
If this is a classified security leak to the press, then I will be outraged. I would be even more outraged if the government had asked the paper not to print the story in the interest of national security, as in the other episide.
here we have a White House official discolsing a troop withdrawal plan that has not been officially announced.
I suspect that this is not a classified leak. Based on the information, it appears to me that the information was declassified and purposely "leaked".
The US cannot announce a withdrawal deadline, but it will eventually have to withdraw. The Iraqi government is trying to broker a peace agreement, the beginning of which was the announcement of the Iraqi government’s conditions for coalition troop reduction. Part of the problem with reaching an agreement is a perception that the US won’t withdraw. An "unofficial leak" that shows the US discussing plans for how it might withdraw under the Iraqi government’s proposal is a good way to begin demonstrating that the US does intend to withdraw if certain conditions are met. It also shows that the US military has faith in the new Iraqi troops to step up and take over more security, which is important. I think it’s a good idea to offically hold a hardline posture on the issue at this point, and also a good idea to somehow show willingness to work towards withdrawal, which is why I suspect this was leaked on purpose.
If my suspicion is wrong and this does prove to be a classified leak, then as I said I will be outraged.
Time and again, wingers have yelled that we cannot tell the enemy anything about any withdrawal plans lest the enemy would exploit such information. And yet, here is the White House announcing such plans, anonymously, thru an unacredited source. And so where are the complaints about tipping off the enemy.
What we cannot do is set arbitrary withdrawal dates. There has been a stated withdrawal condition for some time: when the Iraqi government asked for it. That process of asking has now begun.
A senior White House official said that General Casey did not present a formal plan for Mr. Bush’s approval but rather a concept of how the United States might move forward after consulting with Iraqi authorities, including Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.
"The recent conversations that have taken place are all designed to formulate our thinking in concert with the new Iraqi government," said the White House official, who declined to discuss specific cuts. "What this process allows is for General Casey to engage with the new Maliki government so it can go from a notional concept to a practical plan of security implementation over the next two years."
The administration has repeatedly said that American troops will begin to stand down as Iraqi forces stand up and begin to assert control. Although the planning for 2006 is advanced, officials say the projected withdrawals for 2007 are more of a forecast of what may be possible given current trends than a hard timeline.
The Iraqi proposal sets conditions for troop reductions. Kerry’s proposal, on the other hand, wanted specific dates for troop reduction. The plan discussed in the NYT article is a projection of when the conditions may be met and how troop reduction might occur. Kerry wanted: "We will be out by day X." This plan projects: "Condition X could be met by day Y and we could withdraw Z number of troops."
An important example of misunderstanding in the debate, I think, is in the Times story (my emphasis):
Now, after criticizing Democratic lawmakers for trying to legislate a timeline for withdrawing troops, skeptics say, the Bush administration seems to have its own private schedule, albeit one that can be adjusted as events unfold.
The Times is downplaying this difference between the two. This difference is the criticism.
You might add that the tail will shrink when the IA tail stands up. ATT we are supplying 12 IA/INP Divisions plus our own. Plans are to have the IA Logistics stood up by end-summer 2007. That and the motorization of the IA (DZIK3/OTOKAR/Cougar/Reva/BTR/M1114/M1151/M998).
The security track is based on six core assumptions:
* First, the terrorists, Saddamists, and rejectionists do not have the manpower or firepower to achieve a military victory over the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. They can win only if we surrender. * Second, our own political will is steadfast and will allow America to keep troops in Iraq — to fight terrorists while training and mentoring Iraqi forces — until the mission is done, increasing or decreasing troop levels only as conditions warrant. * Third, progress on the political front will improve the intelligence picture by helping distinguish those who can be won over to support the new Iraqi state from the terrorists and insurgents who must either be killed or captured, detained, and prosecuted. * Fourth, the training, equipping, and mentoring of Iraqi Security Forces will produce an army and police force capable of independently providing security and maintaining public order in Iraq. * Fifth, regional meddling and infiltrations can be contained and/or neutralized. * Sixth, while we can help, assist, and train, Iraqis will ultimately be the ones to eliminate their security threats over the long term.
As More Iraqi Forces Come On Line, The Coalition Will Focus On Preparing Those Forces To Take Primary Responsibility For Security. Already more than 35 Iraqi battalions have assumed control of their own areas of responsibility - including nearly half of Baghdad province and sectors of South-Central, Southeast, Western and North-Central Iraq. In the year ahead, the Coalition will continue handing more territory to Iraqi forces, with the goal of having the Iraqis control more territory than the Coalition by the end of 2006.
* As Iraqis Stand Up, American Forces Will Stand Down. With more Iraqi Security Forces demonstrating the capabilities needed to achieve victory, American commanders have determined that combat forces can decrease from 17 to 15 brigades by the spring of 2006. This adjustment will result in a net decrease of several thousand troops below the pre-election baseline of 138,000. This comes in addition to the reduction of about 20,000 troops in Iraq largely to assist with election security. If Iraqis continue to make security and political progress, the United States expects to discuss with Iraq’s new government further possible adjustments. All the President’s decisions will be based upon conditions on the ground - not artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington.
The day’s final presenter, Brookings Institution scholar Michael O’Hanlon spoke about the findings from his recent book, Expanding Global Military Capacity for Humanitarian Intervention—which was funded in part by an Institute grant. Discussing lessons learned from his research, O’Hanlon stressed that assistance from all of Europe would be needed in maintaining regional post-conflict security and building a stable peace in Iraq. O’Hanlon outlined three main missions that the United States and its allies needed to complete to ensure stability and regional security in the wake of any military action in Iraq:
* Mission One: Securing the Peace. Lasting one to two years, this phase would largely consist of cleaning up weapons of mass destruction and overseeing the disarmament of Iraq. This phase, he stated, would be primarily a military mission and a wrap-up of security issues that had not been completed during the initial military operations.
* Mission Two: Keeping the Peace. Lasting approximately two to four years, O’Hanlon stated that this phase would consist of a mix of peacekeeping and reconstruction activities. A major focus during this phase would be to keep ethnic, religious, or other sectarian disputes from "Balkanizing" Iraq and would require a mix of military and civil resources to keep the peace.
* Mission Three: Building Long-Term Stability. Lasting from four to ten years, or potentially longer, this phase would seek to ensure long-term stability in the region. As in current UN efforts in Bosnia, this phase would require a sustained international commitment.
In closing, O’Hanlon emphasized that demands in Iraq and other parts of the world will place a great deal of stress on the United States and its capacity for humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping initiatives. He reiterated that the United States cannot do it all alone and pointed out that an increased global capacity for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction was in the best interest of the entire global community. "We will need the French and the Germans and the [entire] core of Europe," he stressed, "for any [successful] stabilization mission in the aftermath of hostilities [in Iraq]."