This is in the NYT, but I’m buying it anyway

Troops In Iraq: More Isn’t Better

This is an excellent op-ed by Danielle Pletka about US troops levels and fact that they don’t necessarily need to be raised to improve security in Iraq. She notes widespread demand for more US troops to occupy Iraq.

That demand rests on a false premise: that the additional troops would be used to battle resurgent Baathists and patch over the gaps in security that exist throughout Iraq. Rather, more Americans will end up doing jobs they ought to hand off, like guarding electrical lines and schools, policing neighborhoods and directing traffic in downtown Baghdad.

She notes that Senator John McCain is an outspoken proponent of increased troop levels. I commented on a McCain op-ed a few weeks ago and I supported his contention that we MUST win and we SHOULD just come out and explain how expensive the war will be and how long it will take. I don’t necessarily think that we need more combat troops in Iraq, but I think we need to free up the troops that are there to go on the offensive. Pletka brings up a interesting point regarding this:

The problem American commanders in the field face is not too few troops, but too little intelligence to act upon. And that problem is getting better as well. In the months since the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein, more Iraqis have been stepping forward with information, leading United States forces to Baathist fugitives and arms caches.

This is the kind of work United States forces need to be doing. The time has come to get American troops back to this core mission, and take them out of the night watchman game.

I’ve suggested that Iraqi troops could take some of the pressure off of our boys. Maybe the Badr Brigade (here and here) isn’t exactly what we’re looking for, but things are looking up in that department.

This is precisely what Pentagon officials and senior civilians are trying to achieve. Already, some 55,000 Iraqis have been trained and are under arms. According to the Pentagon and commanders in the field, the number should be close to 200,000 by the middle of next year. Five forces are being formed: the police, a border guard, a protection service for facilities (security guards), a national army and a civil defense corps. Recruiting goals for these forces are being exceeded.

If we do this right, and if we take care not to employ too many “undesirables,” we can help ourselves out and be well on the way to a independent Iraq. Mayve we don’t need UN-mandated troops. Read the whole thing.