Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's time for National Leadership of all Americans

The Iraq Study Group report is out; it's worth a read. Key quotes:

[Letter from the Co-Chairs (p. 4)]

What we recommend in this report demands a tremendous amount of political will and cooperation by the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government. It demands skillful implementation. It demands unity of effort by government agencies. And its success depends on the unity of the American people in a time of political polarization. Americans can and must enjoy the right of robust debate within a democracy. Yet U.S. foreign policy is doomed to failure--as is any course of action in Iraq--if it is not supported by a broad, sustained consensus. The aim of our report is to move our country toward such a consensus.

[C. Some Alternative Courses for Iraq (p. 30)]

3. More Troops for Iraq

Sustained increases in U.S. troop levels would not solve the fundamental cause of violence in Iraq, which is the absence of national reconciliation. A senior American general told us that adding U.S. troops might temporarily help limit violence in a highly localized area. However, past experience indicates that the violence would simply rekindle as soon as U.S. forces are moved to another area. As another American general told us, if the Iraqi government does not make political progress, "all the troops in the world will not provide security." Meanwhile, America's military capacity is stretched thin: we do not have the troops or equipment to make a substantial, sustained increase in our troop presence. Increased deployments to Iraq would also necessarily hamper our ability to provide adequate resources for our efforts in Afghanistan or respond to crises around the world.

[3. Security and Military Forces]

A Military Strategy for Iraq
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(p. 50)

Because of the importance of Iraq to our regional security goals and to our ongoing fight against al Qaeda, we considered proposals to make a substantial increase (100,000 to 200,000) in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. We rejected this course because we do not believe that the needed levels are available for a sustained deployment. Further, adding more American troops could conceivably worsen those aspects of the security problem that are fed by the view that the U.S. presence is intended to be a long-term "occupation." We could, however, support a short-term redeployment or surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad, or to speed up the training and equipping mission, if the U.S. commander in Iraq determines that such steps would be effective.

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Second, the long-term commitment of American ground forces to Iraq at current levels is adversely affecting Army readiness, with less than a third of the Army units currently at high readiness levels. The Army is unlikely to be able to meet the next rotation of troops in Iraq without undesireably changes in its deployment practices. The Army is now considering breaking its compact with the National Guard and Reserves that limits the number of years that these citizen-soldiers can be deployed. Behind this short-term strain is the longer-term risk that the ground forces will be impaired in ways that will take years to reverse.

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(p. 51)

Restoring the U.S. Military

U.S. military forces, especially our ground forces, have been stretched nearly to the breaking point by the repeated deployments to Iraq, with attendant casualties (almost 3,000 dead and more than 21,000 wounded), greater difficulty in recruiting, and accelerated wear on equipment.

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(p. 52)

RECOMMENDATION 49: The administration, in full consultation with the relevant committees of Congress, should assess the full future budgetary impact of the war in Iraq and its potential impact on the future readiness of the force, the ability to recruit and retain high-quality personnel, needed investments in procurement and in research and development, and the budgets of other U.S. government agencies involved in the stability and reconstruction effort.

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(p. 60)

U.S. Personnel

The United States can take several steps to ensure that it has personnel with the right skills serving in Iraq.
All of our efforts in Iraq, military and civilian, are handicapped by Americans' lack of language and cultural understanding. Our embassy of 1,000 has 33 Arabic speakers, just six of whom are at the level of fluency. [sic] In a conflict that demands effective and efficient communication with Iraqis, we are often at a disadvantage. There are still far too few Arab language-proficient military and civilian officers in Iraq, to the detriment of the U.S. mission.

[OYE Comment: Isn't it time to get rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"?]

OK, President Bush, on Pearl Harbor Day, it's time for Real National Leadership, including setting a personal example for the rest of us.


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