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Bush’s speech
Posted by: mcq on Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Let's just say I want to believe it because, as mentioned, I want to see success in Iraq. I'm just not ready, even after his speech, to buy completely into this surge.

However, it was good to see him admit that, hey things haven't gone so well and therefore "it is clear we need to change our strategy in Iraq."

Well, yeah, I'm just not too sure this is the best way to change that. And yes, I do believe him to be right when he says "failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the US."

The number one priority, per the speech, is security, and the number one place where it is top priority is Baghdad.

As I pointed out in the post about "surge math" below, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno pointed to the reason the previous operation in Baghdad failed - not enough troops to clear and hold.

That's key. Clearing an area is a temporary measure at best. Like pushing water back to clear an area on a flooded floor, it simply flows back in when you discontinue the clearing operation. Same with bad guys. The only way you can stabilize and secure an area is to clear and hold.

Bush is promising this will be the case with the additional troops. And the numbers. 18 Iraqi ISF brigades dedicated to Baghdad along with 5 additional US brigades. Those 5 US brigades will be embedded with the Iraqi brigades and their "clear well defined mission" will involve clearing operations, protection operations and training.

All of the counterinsurgency units will operate out of local police stations. All will conduct "clear and hold" operations. Iraqis will take the lead in those operations.

Additionally something I've heard numerous complaints about are the Rules of Engagement (ROE). They're too restrictive. Per Bush those have been looked at, modified and approved by local commanders as being much better. Good.

Lastly, Bush said that political and sectarian interference had prevented them from going into areas where they needed to go in the past. He says such interference will not be tolerated in this new operation. That is a direct challenge to both al Maliki and al Sadr. It is also a key to success.

He also, finally, said the commitment of the US isn't open-ended. And, in fact, put the milestones or, as he called them, "benchmarks" on the Iraqis. Essentially the message was accomplish these or else.

—Iraq will assume responsibility for all provinces by November.

—An oil revenue sharing plan which includes all Iraqis will be announced.

—Iraq will use 10 billion of its money for reconstruction.

—Iraq will hold provincial elections

—Iraq will reform its de-Ba'athification process and constitutional amendment process to make it a more open process.

BTW, a week or so ago, I wrote a post about the minimum requirements any new plan should have in addition to the military side of it. They were "oil revenue sharing" and confronting the militias. Got one, and sort of got the other if you believe the "political and sectarian interference will not be tolerated" line. And I can guarantee that at some point, a confrontation will take place if they stick to those guns.

As for the US? The US will embed one US Bde with every Iraqi Division.

Economically, the Sec. of State will name a US Reconstruction coordinator to lead our reconstruction effort and provincial reconstruction teams will be doubled.

He specifically cited al Anbar province as the area where al Qaeda is most active and committed 4,000 troops (about another brigade) to clearing them out of there. He also addressed the problems with Syria and Iran, but most specifically Iran, promising to "seek out and destroy" networks providing material support to Iraqi insurgents.

The rest, frankly, was focused on politics and with most such rhetoric I pretty much tuned it out. Nothing new in particular. Part pep-talk, part warning (more casualties, sacrifice and patience), part political spin.

But as I reviewed his plan I couldn't help but think, "maybe, just maybe this has an outside chance".

Now hear me well. To have that outside chance it must be executed very well and completely. Everyone has to show up on time and do their job. But it may have an outside shot. The wild card remains the Iraqis and maybe this is just enough to see them start standing up. Or maybe I just want to see success too much and am more likely to ignore the real possibility that what we've seen in Iraq is what we're likely to see more of. I hope not.

Anyway, as I've said for quite some time, our job is to train the ISF not fight the insurgency. Apparently President Bush has decided differently. I wish him and his plan luck and hope like hell it works.

UPDATE: White House "fact sheet" on plan here. Speech here.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

And a bit of a veiled sabre-rattle for Iran’s benefit. That carrier group isn’t really for Iraq...

Written By: shark
URL: http://
That carrier group isn’t really for Iraq...
You’ve got that right ... nor is the new CENTCOM cdr.
Written By: McQ
Speaking of Fallon: it’s a bit more than passing curiosity to me that he’s now CENTCOM in the wake of the Chinese submarine escapade with 7th Fleet. Given the fact that he didn’t lose his head over that deal, and based on everything I’ve read about him at Pacific Command, I’ve figured that he must be some kind of super-cool para-diplomatic asset in dealing with the ChiComs.

I can’t shake the feeling that there’s a lot more going on in the CENTCOM appointment than people like us can remotely guess at.

Fine, then: back to the subject at hand.
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—
Will the combined US and Iraqi forces be enough to execute the "hold" step that is the alleged missing piece? If it’s only enough to hold part of Baghdad, will they stick with hold, and leave some neighborhoods unprotected, or will they revert to just clearing the trouble spot of the day?

I wish Bush had found a way to ask the country to pitch in in some way beyond paying taxes.

It is essential that we win in Iraq.
Written By: Larry
URL: http://
Will the combined US and Iraqi forces be enough to execute the "hold" step that is the alleged missing piece? If it’s only enough to hold part of Baghdad, will they stick with hold, and leave some neighborhoods unprotected, or will they revert to just clearing the trouble spot of the day?
I think you’ve hit on the $64,000 question Larry. Supposedly this is enough to clear and hold. But by our own doctrine and even including the Iraqis we seem to be below the minimum threshold to do all of Baghdad. So that may mean an alternative to all of the city.

We’ll see.
Written By: McQ
You have a very nice site and good guestbook, thank you.
Written By: Krystal

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