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Pace advises troop cuts
Posted by: mcq on Friday, August 24, 2007

I'm not sure this is really much of a story:
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half, potentially creating a rift with top White House officials and other military commanders over the course of the war.

Administration and military officials say Marine Gen. Peter Pace is likely to convey concerns by the Joint Chiefs that keeping well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 will severely strain the military. This assessment could collide with one being prepared by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, calling for the U.S. to maintain higher troop levels for 2008 and beyond.
Given the way this is written I'm not sure there will be a clash. Most of what I've read says the Surge will continue through April of 2008. LTG Ray Odierno, 2nd in command and the day-to-day commander of Operation Phantom Thunder has said previously that if trends continue it is possible some troops may be withdrawn by the end of the year.

I would guess Petraeus is well aware of the strain a deployment of this size puts on the military and is planning for withdrawals during 2008. I'd also guess that politically that will be an attractive thing at the time for Republicans. So I'm not sure that Pace saying we need to reduce forces will actually "collide" with the assessment Petraeus is preparing.

I think this is more to leverage off of Sen. Warner's recent statements about drawing down troops than it is anything of real significance. Note also that the article says Pace will offer this as a "private" advice and not in a formal report.

So when you see this:
Bush has said publicly he hopes to move toward troop levels recommended by the blue-ribbon Iraq Study Group, which had called for drastic reductions in combat power to focus on training and counter-terrorism missions. Such a shift would lead to a force of 20,000 to 50,000 soldiers. That now appears unlikely.
I disagree. It may be unlikely in '08 as an end-state, but there's nothing that says, depending on the situation at the time, that troop levels won't be moving toward those levels.
 
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This is a clear message to Iraqi leaders that they must begin to turn violence against civil disorder (car bombings, etc.). I hate to say "it’s that simple," but it is that simple. Violence is the bottom line in civil authority. It’s as true in New York City and Los Angeles as it is in Baghdad.

One point of keeping the force footprint small was to avoid creating a long dependence on it for civil order. That’s why I think that Rumsfeld was right and Zinni et al. were wrong. But of course we also now know how dissolute Iraqi society is. The corrective to that dissolution is the very violence that has flowed from it via the car bombers; now the violence has to flow the other way, from the civil authority to the murderers.

What has to emerge is a strongly authoritarian government, federalized and compartmentalized for sure, but unified in the goal of maintaining order, with no reluctance to use violence against the murderers, but which hopefully remains consensual, i.e., reasonably democratic.

I do not really like the idea, however, that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs comes out to propose troop cuts on the basis that the forces are strained. We ought to be doing things to fix that strain. Period.

As for Iran, we should finally make it pay for 28 years of outsourcing terrorism, and double the payment for its mischief in Iraq. With Iran there are no good choices, there are only bad choices and horrible choices. We’ve got to use one of the bad choices sooner to avoid being forced to use the horrible choice down the road.

Again, since 99% of all this happens out of our view (hence the usual platitudes in the NIE), we can only guess what’s cooking and only hope that something is indeed cooking.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
pace has denied the latimes article
 
Written By: rob
URL: http://

 
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