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.