The President's Forthcoming Speech on Iraq
The Office of Public Liaison has sent this preview of the President's speech on Iraq out to bloggers. I have included it after "More". I think that the informed reader who asked us on January 1 to consider the AEI plan presented by Fred Kagan as containing the outlines of the President's plan was substantially correct. My thanks to him for the heads up. But recall that our informed reader also had reservations about the surge plan. I am reprinting his comments from that day for reference.
I noted this post at The Small Wars Journal with interest a couple of weeks ago. Since then, every couple of days there has been a news story leading me to believe that the plan developed by General Keane and Fred Kagan at AEI is the one that the President is going to adopt and announce in January.
Some of these signs: statements by Bush at a press conference before Christmas; a dramatic increase in op-eds by Kagan in nearly every major newspaper, including some British ones; stories in outlets such as the NYT alluding to possible force increases; Gates' well-publicized trip to Iraq, with the ostensible conclusion that larger forces are needed; and now, Joe Lieberman's op-ed in the Washington Post (which is linked on Instapundit), calling for a larger force.
I encourage you all to follow the links to the AEI plan and read it -- it's a ppt presentation and in classic Pentagon course-of-action style -- indicating that it has been wargamed by military officers, not just academics or civilians such as the ISG.
I don't have time to blog about this, but these are my thoughts:
a) the plan calls for a surge in forces, but what is less publicized is the manner in which this surge will be sustained: by increasing the rotation time of Marine units from 7 to 12 months and Army units from 12-15 months. I wonder if this detail is the reason why the President is waiting until after Christmas to announce. Anyway, this jives with what I am hearing from several sources on the need for longer rotations for Marine units, due to the nature of counterinsurgencies and the length of time required to build trusted local networks.
b) the plan calls for what is a shift in mission: from a priority of training Iraqi forces to a priority of providing a secure environment for the people. This might get lost in the coverage, which will dwell upon the increase in forces -- along with cries of "escalation" a la Vietnam. But it is a very important shift. The coming year might see some new battles possibly on the scale of that of Fallujah in 2004, but this time in both Baghdad and Ramadi. This is a guess though and is not crystal clear in the plan -- the battles could also be smaller in scale, given the strengths of Iraqi forces in some areas.
c) finally, I feel the plan is not detailed enough when destructing reconstruction: the "build" part of "clear, hold, and build." There needs to be a dramatic decentralization of funding, a renewed commitment to the CERP program; full staffing of provincial reconstruction teams; and the USAID and State Dept need to become expeditionary and fully staffed virtually overnight -- there's no reason why USAID personnel shouldn't be asked to work at the company level. My thoughts here are not enough. I'm not a reconstruction expert. But several Marine officer friends have noted this problem. Robert Kaplan did so as well in an Atlantic piece not long ago. Basically, the rest of the elements of national power are not present on the battlefield in the ways that they should be.
I could be way off the mark: Bush might propose something completely different. But I'm calling this one: he's going with the AEI plan, perhaps with some modifications.
The Pre-speech briefing
The President's New Iraq Strategy Is Rooted In Six Fundamental Elements:
1. Let the Iraqis lead; 2. Help Iraqis protect the population; 3. Isolate extremists; 4. Create space for political progress; 5. Diversify political and economic efforts; and 6. Situate the strategy in a regional approach.
Ø The Consequences Of Failure In Iraq Could Not Be Graver – The War On Terror Cannot Be Won If We Fail In Iraq. Our enemies throughout the Middle East are trying to defeat us in Iraq. If we step back now, the problems in Iraq will become more lethal, and make our troops fight an uglier battle than we are seeing today.
Key Elements Of The New Approach: Security
· Publicly acknowledge all parties are responsible for quelling sectarian violence.
· Work with additional Coalition help to regain control of the capital and protect the Iraqi population.
· Deliver necessary Iraqi forces for Baghdad and protect those forces from political interference.
· Commit to intensify efforts to build balanced security forces throughout the nation that provide security even-handedly for all Iraqis.
· Plan and fund eventual demobilization program for militias.
· Agree that helping Iraqis to provide population security is necessary to enable accelerated transition and political progress.
· Provide additional military and civilian resources to accomplish this mission.
· Increase efforts to support tribes willing to help Iraqis fight Al Qaeda in Anbar.
· Accelerate and expand the embed program while minimizing risk to participants.
Both Coalition And Iraqi:
· Continue counter-terror operations against Al Qaeda and insurgent organizations.
· Take more vigorous action against death squad networks.
· Accelerate transition to Iraqi responsibility and increase Iraqi ownership.
· Increase Iraqi security force capacity – both size and effectiveness – from 10 to 13 Army divisions, 36 to 41 Army Brigades, and 112 to 132 Army Battalions.
* Establish a National Operations Center, National Counterterrorism Force, and National Strike Force. * Reform the Ministry of Interior to increase transparency and accountability and transform the National Police.
Key Elements Of The New Approach: Political
· The Government of Iraq commits to:
o Reform its cabinet to provide even-handed service delivery.
* Act on promised reconciliation initiatives (oil law, de-Baathification law, Provincial elections). * Give Coalition and ISF authority to pursue ALL extremists.
· All Iraqi leaders support reconciliation.
· Moderate coalition emerges as strong base of support for unity government.
· Support political moderates so they can take on the extremists.
o Build and sustain strategic partnerships with moderate Shi'a, Sunnis, and Kurds.
· Support the national compact and key elements of reconciliation with Iraqis in the lead.
· Diversify U.S. efforts to foster political accommodation outside Baghdad (more flexibility for local commanders and civilian leaders).
* Expand and increase the flexibility of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) footprint. * Focus U.S. political, security, and economic resources at local level to open space for moderates, with initial priority to Baghdad and Anbar.
Both Coalition And Iraqi:
· Partnership between Prime Minister Maliki, Iraqi moderates, and the United States where all parties are clear on expectations and responsibilities.
· Strengthen the rule of law and combat corruption.
· Build on security gains to foster local and national political accommodations.
· Make Iraqi institutions even-handed, serving all of Iraq's communities on an impartial basis.
Key Elements Of The New Approach: Economic
· Deliver economic resources and provide essential services to all areas and communities.
· Enact hydrocarbons law to promote investment, national unity, and reconciliation.
· Capitalize and execute jobs-producing programs.
· Match U.S. efforts to create jobs with longer term sustainable Iraqi programs.
· Focus more economic effort on relatively secure areas as a magnet for employment and growth.
· Refocus efforts to help Iraqis build capacity in areas vital to success of the government (e.g. budget execution, key ministries).
· Decentralize efforts to build Iraqi capacities outside the Green Zone.
* Double the number of PRTs and civilians serving outside the Green Zone. * Establish PRT-capability within maneuver Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs).
· Greater integration of economic strategy with military effort.
* Joint civil-military plans devised by PRT and BCT. * Remove legal and bureaucratic barriers to maximize cooperation and flexibility.
Key Elements Of The New Approach: Regional
· Vigorously engage Arab states.
· Take the lead in establishing a regional forum to give support and help from the neighborhood.
· Counter negative foreign activity in Iraq.
· Increase efforts to counter PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party).
· Intensify efforts to counter Iranian and Syrian influence inside Iraq.
· Increase military presence in the region.
· Strengthen defense ties with partner states in the region.
· Encourage Arab state support to Government of Iraq.
· Continue efforts to help manage relations between Iraq and Turkey.
· Continue to seek the region's full support in the War on Terror.
Both Coalition And Iraqi:
· Focus on the International Compact.
· Retain active U.N. engagement in Iraq – particularly for election support and constitutional review.