Gen. Abizaid: No Iraq Troop Cuts Before Mid-2007 genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

U.S. troops on hold

The complications in the war in Iraq, which is now plagued by sectarian violence, continue to stymie U.S. efforts to schedule any troop cuts in the immediate future. In the most recent assessment from General Abizaid, the latest estimate suggests that it may well be the middle of 2007 before the U.S. can begin to reduce troop levels. Further, there remains the possibility that some anticipated rotations will not result in those troops returning home in order to provide additional soldiers to aid in the suppression of the persistent violence. Reuters has the full detail in an article that can be found here.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, who as head of U.S. Central Command oversees the war, said the United States might even increase the size of its force from the current 147,000, the highest since January. He also did not rule out holding in place U.S. units scheduled to leave Iraq in coming months.

His comments, the most pessimistic to date on a U.S. drawdown, come amid unabated sectarian violence in Baghdad between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims that has elevated concerns over civil war 3-1/2 years after a U.S.-led invasion.

"I think that this level will probably have to be sustained through the spring, and then we'll re-evaluate," said Abizaid, acknowledging that he thought there would have been thousands fewer U.S. troops in Iraq by now.

Abizaid defended the U.S. decision to shift troops out of Anbar province, heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency, into Baghdad to focus on the curbing sectarian violence.

Asked why not increase U.S. troops in Anbar and Baghdad, Abizaid said that while he had "ample troops" in Iraq, that "doesn't mean you have enough troops to do everything everywhere."

Abizaid said Anbar, which makes up a third of Iraq, is loaded with "very small population centers that if you concentrated your campaign efforts there would soak up a lot of troops from the decisive areas where we need them more."

Interpret the remarks however you choose, but can there be any doubt that the administration holds steadfast in its position that they have ample troops to achieve the U.S. objectives. Pardon my sarcasm, but is that analysis based on a ten year program or one that seeks to end the conflict and bring the troops home any time soon? I may be a cynic, but I would suggest that one would be hard pressed to cite prior U.S. military actions where we adopted a strategy that John McCain characterized as a game of "whack-a-mole", whereby we move troops from hot spot to hot spot in an attempt to bring volatile areas under control...all the while conceding stability in the area we then abandon.

Additionally, we continue to hear that we have trained nearly 300,000 Iraqi troops and yet the number of deaths reported in the troubled nation continues to grow. One must question just how committed or cohesive the Iraqi forces may actually be and whether, as some have asked, they have been infiltrated by insurgents and sectarian groups in order to train and equip their militias. Given the reports of significant defections, it seems to be a plausible explanation of the seemingly insignificant impact these growing numbers of security forces have represented.

Daniel DiRito | September 19, 2006 | 1:14 PM
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1 On September 19, 2006 at 9:13 PM, The Heretik wrote —

300,000 just doesn't go as far as it used to.

Thought Theater at Blogged

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