My final chart was potentially the most important: PHASE IV STABILITY OPERATIONS.
"The Generated and Running Starts," I explained, "and the Hybrid Concept all project Phase III ending with a maximum of two hundred and fifty thousand troops in Iraq. We will have to stand up a new Iraqi army, and create a constabulary that includes a representative tribal, religious and ethnic mix. It will take time.
"And well-designed and well-funded reconstruction projects that put large numbers of Iraqis to work and quickly meet community needs — and expectations — will be the keys to our success in Phase IV."
"We will want to get Iraqis in charge of Iraq as soon as possible," Don Rumsfeld said. On hearing his words, heads nodded around the table.
"At some point," I said, "we can begin drawing down our force. We'll want to retain a core strength of at least fifty thousand men, and our troop reductions should parallel deployment of representative, professional Iraqi security forces. Our exit strategy will be tied to effective governance by Iraqis, not to a timeline."
I saw further nods around the table. And then Condi Rice tapped her watch; we were out of time.
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