The Petraeus Report: One month and counting

General Petraeus will deliver his report on the 2007 Iraq strategy one month from today, on September 15th. This, of course, will be a very closely scrutinized report and will likely determine the course of political rhetoric and military policy over the next year.

And here’s an amazing report on the report:

Top general may propose pullbacks
Intent on demonstrating progress in Iraq, the top U.S. general there is expected by Bush administration officials to recommend removing American troops soon from several areas where commanders believe security has improved, possibly including Al Anbar province.

I find the lead-off “intent on demonstrating progress in Iraq” interesting, because the writer seems intent on demonstrating that the proposal might not be based on military virtue but on political expediency. Otherwise, it’s better than I had hoped for.

However, Captain Ed notes an important point:

That strategy entails some risk. After all, the surge came into being because of the previous failures to effectively hold cleared areas.

Without knowing enough details about the situation on the ground, I’d think that if we pull some troops out of some of the more-secure areas, we keep them on stand-by to rush back if things start falling apart. The idea that some of the Marines can get out of Anbar is great, but only if they really aren’t needed.

At some point we’re going to reach the time when US troops are doing more harm than good. I’m skeptical that we’re very close to that time yet. We’re still in the middle of the “turning point”, as far as I can tell. We’ve still got a ways to go in Act II, and pulling back too early would surely snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Besides, the political situation isn’t nearly stable or reliable enough to be counted on (or trusted) and relying on the Iraqi military and police means, to an extent, relying on the Iraqi government.

Another problem, of course, is that many surrenderists will claim that if things are so good why not bring them home instead of redeploying them to other troubled areas or using them as a ready reserve. This would basically undo the “surge” part of the 2007 strategy, and again, it’s too early for that.

But I’d love to be wrong.


  1. The surge failed back in March, congressional leaders told me so. Now the surge is in its ‘last throes’, I bet they’d say if they were clever enough to think that up.

  2. I expect to see MND-N and MNF-W to consolidate into one command in 2008. MND-CS and MND-SE will fold into MND-C at the same time. Reduction in force in the areas outside of Baghdad, Diyala, Babil, Salahadin and Anbar has been ongoing for some time now. The Baghdad mess has been absorbing those reductions. We lost 18-24 months of momentum to the Sammarra Bombing in Feb06 and the delay in the Iraqi Govt formation. We are almost back to where we were in Dec05…

  3. DJ: Agreed on peaking in late 05. Other than taking out Big Z, 06 was more or less a disaster in a lot of ways. One thing that I wonder about, though, is how effective this current strategy would have been if implemented in Jan 06 instead of Jan 07. Would the Iraqi military and police have been up to it? For all the lost time in 06, the ISF made big headway, it seems.

  4. Whether the surge is or is not working I don’t know. But the new admiral who is to become Chairman of the JCS says the surge can’t last past April 2008. So hopefully they will take care of business between now and then.

  5. New date on how long they can maintain surge is Jun 2008. I do not think it will be that long. I expect a gradual 1 Bde/mo reduction starting Jan-Feb 2008 with an end-2008 target of 10-12 US combat brigades. Iraqi Army will have 13 Divisions operational (in-lead) by then. Currently they have 9 in-lead…

  6. There will never be political progress unless there’s internal security. When the Sunni’s realize they aren’t getting the country back in their iron grip, they’ll be willing to compromise.