Debate in recent days has focused on the possibility of “surging” U.S. combat forces in Iraq. Security is the precondition for political progress and economic development, and we need more troops on the ground. But to make a real difference, any surge must be substantial and sustained.
During my recent trip to Iraq, commanders spoke of adding as many as five additional brigades in Baghdad, and one or two additional brigades in Anbar Province. This, I believe, is the minimum we should consider. It would be far better to have too many reinforcements in Iraq than to suffer, once again, the tragic results of insufficient force levels.
The mission of these troops would be to implement the thus-far-elusive “hold” element of the military’s “clear, hold, build” strategy: to maintain security in cleared areas, to protect the population, and to impose the government’s authority. Our troops would work in cooperation with Iraqi forces, and stay in place until the completion of their mission.
The worst of all worlds would be a small, short surge of U.S. forces. We have tried small surges in the past, and they have been ineffective because our commanders lacked the forces necessary to hold territory after it was cleared. A short surge would have all the drawbacks associated with greater deployments without giving our troops the time they need to be effective.
Increasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq will expose more brave Americans to danger, and increase the number of American casualties. Extending combat tours and accelerating the deployment of additional brigades is a terrible sacrifice to impose on the best patriots among us, and they will understandably be disappointed. Then they will shoulder their weapons, and do everything duty requires to win this war.
We have made many mistakes since 2003, and these will not be easily reversed. But from everything I witnessed on my most recent visit, I believe that success is still possible. Even greater than the costs incurred thus far and in the future are the catastrophic consequences that would ensue from our failure in Iraq. By surging troops and bringing security to Baghdad and other areas, we will give the Iraqis the best possible chance to succeed. Our national security, and that of our friends and allies, compels us to make our best effort to prevail, and to do it now.
On a personal note, I want to thank John, Paul and Scott for granting me this valuable real estate on Power Line to make the case for victory in Iraq.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
The following is off PowerLine by John McCain. As I read it, I'm reminded of the Otto Von Bismark quote "Politics is the art of the possible". I have my differences with McCain, and often find him to be pompous and self-serving, but on Iraq he is at least reasonable, and maybe correct. My personal view is that we would likely kill less Americans and less Iraqis, and have a shorter time to a handover WITHOUT a "surge", but one has to "do what they can do". The "possible" likely doesn't include "stay the course" for longer than a few months, so even if more must die for the left to get their way, that is likely the only "possible" option available that gives us a fighting chance to avoid the cut and run that the left is after.