About 3,500 paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade will begin deploying to Iraq next month as the new call-forward force, Defense officials said Wednesday.
The troops are slated to replace Marines and sailors in the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, who were called from Kuwait to Anbar Province in November.
"Balding, bespectacled and pudgy-faced, Frederick Kagan would struggle to be noticed by, let alone inspire, the battle-weary US soldiers heading to Baghdad.
But this military historian and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think-tank, managed last month to rekindle the flames of defiance deep within President Bush. At that time, the Iraq Study Group’s report appeared to represent a bleak consensus that the war was being lost. Mr Bush was being told to start bringing the troops home.
According to Mr Kagan’s colleagues, when the President met him it was as if a burden was lifted from Mr Bush’s shoulders. 'He said, "Wow, you mean we can actually still win this war?"' one said. The title of Mr Kagan’s alternative strategy is Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq.
It arrived at the White House unsolicited, having originated outside the usual military planning channels, and suggests that America can still win through military might. Mr Kagan said there had never been enough US troops in Iraq and they had focused too much on killing insurgents rather than securing law and order.
He still fears possible half-measures on troop numbers. He has argued for a sustained increase of 35,000 troops rather than the expected 'surge' of 20,000.
'The enemy always expects us to surge and leave. If we surge for three or six months and then pull our forces back, the enemy will be right there waiting.'"
"If the president wants to add to this mission, he is going to have to justify it. And this is new for him because up until now the Republican Congress has given him a blank check with no oversight, no standards, no conditions.
...And we’ve gone into this situation, which is a war without end, which the American people have rejected. If the president chooses to escalate the war, in his budget request we want to see a distinction between what is there to support the troops who are there now. The American people and the Congress support those troops. We will not abandon them.
...The president wants to escalate a war where his generals are telling him that the additional troops will not be effective...and then again, ignoring the strong message of the American people. We will always support the troops who are there...
...If the president wants to expand the mission, that’s a conversation he has to have with the Congress of the United States."
"Senator Edward M. Kennedy today called for Congress to require President Bush to submit his plan for a troop surge in Iraq to the House and Senate before it can be implemented, arguing that Democrats must make good on their campaign promise to bring an end to the war
In a speech delivered at the National Press Club this afternoon, the Massachusetts Democrat outlined a bill he plans to introduce that would prevent a troop escalation and additional funding for such a move until it is approved by Congress.
'We cannot simply speak out against an escalation of troops in Iraq. We must act to prevent it,' Kennedy said, according to excerpts released by his office. 'The president may deny the plain truth. But the truth speaks loudly and tragically. Congress must no longer follow him deeper into the quagmire in Iraq.'"
"'If the president chooses to escalate the war, in his budget request we want to see a distinction between what is there to support the troops who are there now. The American people and the Congress support those troops. We will not abandon them.'
That last part is a critical distinction for Pelosi to make because, as we all know, most Republicans will use any negative response to a troop surge to paint Democrats as unpatriotic and unsupportive of the troops in Iraq. The House Speaker could not possibly have been more clear that she will never block funding for the troops already on active duty in Iraq, but that Bush, for the first time ever, will have to justify and get consensus from Congress on any escalation to the war.
Pelosi also made the point that she supports expanding the overall size of the U.S. military -- but to address how stretched the military is because of the Iraq war and the extent to which it's made us less safe for any other defense imperatives that may arise.
'Democrats do support increasing the size of the Army by 30,000, the Marines by 10,000 to make sure we’re able to protect the American people,' said Pelosi, adding that it is important to protect all of our security interests '…wherever they may occur. That’s different, though, from adding troops to Iraq.'
'The president wants to escalate a war where his generals are telling him that the additional troops will not be effective… and then again, ignoring the strong message of the American people.'"
"...the United States has been woefully deficient in anticipating backlashes and blowback to its policies. Decommissioning the Iraqi army was one such failure. The Iraqi government's incompetence and bungling of Saddam's trial and execution is another devastating example of the failure to anticipate consequences that speaks volumes about its inability to govern.
Of course, Mr. Bush may surprise us with a radically different approach. While we can hope so, we ought not be blind to past lessons that suggest what may lie ahead. This new strategy is a 'hail Mary pass' at best. Pray that we have some awfully capable receivers downfield, Iraqi and American, who can catch that pass."
Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever, when we are, in fact, working for the day when Iraq can defend itself and we can leave. As we determine the right force level, our troops can know that I will continue to be guided by the advice that matters: the sober judgment of our military leaders.
Who the fuck is the author of liberty? Seriously.
Did I mis-hear, or did Bush not end with "God bless America"?
We consulted members of Congress from both parties...
Americans needed to hear a clear plan to extricate United States troops from the disaster that Mr. Bush created. What they got was more gauzy talk of victory in the war on terrorism and of creating a “young democracy” in Iraq. In other words, a way for this president to run out the clock and leave his mess for the next one.
"To listen to Bush's speech on Wednesday, you would imagine that al-Qaeda has occupied large swathes of Iraq with the help of Syria and Iran and is brandishing missiles at the US mainland. That the president of the United States can come out after nearly four years of such lies and try to put this fantasy over on the American people is shameful."
"The premise of the speech, and of the strategy, is that there is a national democratic government in Baghdad, defending itself against Jihadist attacks. The task, in the president's mind, is therefore to send more troops to defend such a government. But the reality facing us each day is a starkly different one from the scenario assumed by the president. The government of which Bush speaks, to put it bluntly, does not exist."
"Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) passionately argued against President Bush’s escalation plan during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today.
During questioning of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Hagel called the new strategy 'morally wrong' and 'tactically, strategically, militarily wrong,' and declared, 'I have to say, Madam Secretary, that I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.' Members in the hearing room clapped as Hagel concluded, 'I will resist it.'"
"Americans [70%] overwhelmingly oppose sending more U.S. forces to Iraq, according to a new AP-Ipsos poll that serves as a strong repudiation of President Bush's plan to send another 21,500 troops.
The opposition to boosting troop levels in Iraq reflects growing skepticism that the United States made the right decision in going to war in the first place and that a stable, democratic government can be established there. Just 35 percent think it was right for the United States to go to war, a new low in AP polling and a reversal from two years ago, when two-thirds of Americans thought it was the correct move.
Sixty percent, meanwhile, think it is unlikely that a stable, democratic Iraqi government will be established.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del., warned Thursday that any solution to the Iraq problem must have public support. Harking back to Vietnam, he said: 'No foreign policy can be sustained in this country without the informed consent of the American people. They've got to sign on.'"
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