Archive for the ‘strategy’ Category

US military to abandon Iraqi cities

November 12, 2008

The U.S. military in Iraq is abandoning — deliberately and with little public notice — a centerpiece of the widely acclaimed strategy it adopted nearly two years ago to turn the tide against the insurgency. It is moving American troops farther from the people they are trying to protect.

U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces inspect the site where ...
U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces inspect the site where a roadside bomb injured two electricians in central Baghdad, Iraq on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008.(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer

Starting in early 2007, with Iraq on the brink of all-out civil war, the troops were pushed into the cities and villages as part of a change in strategy that included President Bush’s decision to send more combat forces.

The bigger U.S. presence on the streets was credited by many with allowing the Americans and their Iraqi security partners to build trust among the populace, thus undermining the extremists’ tactics of intimidation, reducing levels of violence and giving new hope to resolving the country’s underlying political conflicts.

Now the Americans are reversing direction, consolidating in larger bases outside the cities and leaving security in the hands of the Iraqis while remaining within reach to respond as the Iraqi forces require.

The U.S. is on track to complete its shift out of all Iraqi cities by June 2009. That is one of the milestones in a political-military campaign plan devised in 2007 by Gen. David Petraeus, when he was the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and his political partner in Baghdad, Ambassador Ryan Crocker. The goal also is in a preliminary security pact with the Iraqi government on the future U.S. military presence.

The shift is not explicitly linked to U.S. plans for increasing its military presence in Afghanistan, but there is an important connection: The logistical resources needed to house and supply a larger and more distributed U.S. force in Afghanistan have been tied up in Iraq. To some extent that will be relieved with the consolidation of U.S. forces in Iraq onto larger, outlying bases that are easier to maintain.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081112/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/
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Senior U.S. Commanders to Assess Afghanistan Mission

October 17, 2008

WASHINGTON — The commander of the United States’ Special Operations forces is meeting this week with the senior American commander in Afghanistan, as well as top Special Operations officers there, to assess the mission in Afghanistan, senior military officials said Thursday.
 
Read: An American military outpost in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, has been frequently attacked by insurgents in recent weeks. Photo: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

The commander, Adm. Eric T. Olson, was in Pakistan on Thursday to meet the new leader of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps paramilitary force, Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan, and to observe a new American-led training program for the Pakistani corps.

Over the next several months, about two dozen American and British military trainers will instruct Pakistani officers at a base in Abbottabad, north of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. The Pakistani officers will in turn train Frontier Corps soldiers next year, in what both countries say is a crucial step in building an effective indigenous force to combat fighters from Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan’s unruly tribal areas.

But the bulk of Admiral Olson’s time in the region will be spent conferring in Afghanistan with senior American Special Operations officers from across the country, as well as with the senior American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, on Friday.

General McKiernan has said that he needs as many as 15,000 combat and support troops beyond the 8,000 troops that President Bush recently approved for deployment early next year. The general is also conducting his own assessment of operations in Afghanistan.

His findings, along with other assessments from the Pentagon and the State Department, will be combined into a comprehensive White House review of Afghanistan policy that is to be completed next month after the presidential election, administration officials said Thursday.

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon spokesman, said officials from across the government, including the intelligence agencies, were working to ensure that “we are on the proper footing as we hand off the baton to the next administration.”

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/17/
washington/17military.html

Petraeus seeking broad support for U.S. strategy

October 16, 2008

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Even before he takes command of U.S. military strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Gen. David Petraeus is reaching beyond the military sphere to encourage international support for stabilizing the region.
U.S. General David Petraeus addresses journalists after a meeting ... 
U.S. General David Petraeus addresses journalists after a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street in London September 29, 2008.(Andrew Winning/Reuters)

Petraeus, whose innovative thinking is credited with helping save Iraq from civil war, met International Monetary Fund and World Bank representatives last week in preparation for new efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said.

The move, unusual for a military commander, underscores the Pentagon’s emphasis on unifying military, economic, political and diplomatic aid to help the two countries cope with militant violence and economic dislocation, officials said.

On October 31, the Army general will become head of Central Command, responsible for American military interests in 20 countries across the Middle East and Central and South Asia.

“The purpose (of the World Bank and IMF meetings) was to touch base and note the Central Command’s interest in supporting comprehensive approaches in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and others,” said a military official close to Petraeus.

His arrival at Centcom is widely expected to reinvigorate U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, where U.S. and NATO efforts face grave challenges from an increasingly confident Taliban.

The United States has 32,000 troops in Afghanistan, including 19,000 under Centcom command and 13,000 under NATO.

Petraeus will launch a 100-day assessment of U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and other countries in the Centcom region once he takes over, officials said.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081016/ts_nm/
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Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Plan to End Iraq War

March 30, 2008

By Zbigniew Brzezinski
The Washington Post
Sunday, March 30, 2008; Page B03

Both Democratic presidential candidates agree that the United States should end its combat mission in Iraq within 12 to 16 months of their possible inauguration. The Republican candidate has spoken of continuing the war, even for a hundred years, until “victory.” The core issue of this campaign is thus a basic disagreement over the merits of the war and the benefits and costs of continuing it.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Brzezinski

The case for U.S. disengagement from combat is compelling in its own right. But it must be matched by a comprehensive political and diplomatic effort to mitigate the destabilizing regional consequences of a war that the outgoing Bush administration started deliberately, justified demagogically and waged badly. (I write, of course, as a Democrat; while I prefer Sen. Barack Obama, I speak here for myself.)

The contrast between the Democratic argument for ending the war and the Republican argument for continuing is sharp and dramatic. The case for terminating the war is based on its prohibitive and tangible costs, while the case for “staying the course” draws heavily on shadowy fears of the unknown and relies on worst-case scenarios. President Bush‘s and Sen. John McCain’s forecasts of regional catastrophe are quite reminiscent of the predictions of “falling dominoes” that were used to justify continued U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Neither has provided any real evidence that ending the war would mean disaster, but their fear-mongering makes prolonging it easier.

Nonetheless, if the American people had been asked more than five years ago whether Bush’s obsession with the removal of Saddam Hussein was worth 4,000 American lives, almost 30,000 wounded Americans and several trillion dollars — not to mention the less precisely measurable damage to the United States’ world-wide credibility, legitimacy and moral standing — the answer almost certainly would have been an unequivocal “no.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/27/AR2008032702405.html?hpid=opinionsbox1 

Top U.S. Officer in Mideast Resigns

March 12, 2008

By Thomas E. Ricks 
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 12, 2008; Page A01

The top U.S. commander in the Middle East, whose views on strategy in the region have put him at odds with the Bush administration, abruptly announced his resignation yesterday, calling reports of such disagreements an untenable “distraction.”

Adm. William J. “Fox” Fallon became head of U.S. Central Command last March, putting him ostensibly in charge of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he clashed frequently with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, over strategy and troop levels, Pentagon officials said. Though technically Fallon’s subordinate, Petraeus has more experience in Iraq and has forged a strong connection with President Bush.
Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U. S. Central Command, ...
Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U. S. Central Command, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington in this May 3, 2007 file photo. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Tuesday, March 11, 2008, that Fallon is resigning.
(AP Photo/Dennis Cook)  

Fallon, 63, had made several comments reflecting disagreement with the administration’s stance on Iran, most recently in an Esquire magazine article last week that portrayed him as the only person who might stop Bush from going to war with the Islamic republic.

“Recent press reports suggesting a disconnect between my views and the president’s policy objectives have become a distraction at a critical time,” Fallon said in a statement. Though he denied that any discrepancies exist, he said “it would be best to step aside and allow” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates “and our military leaders to move beyond this distraction.”

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, seen here in February 2008, ...
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, seen here in February 2008, chose not to comment Monday on a magazine article that says the commander of US forces in the Middle East may soon be replaced because of his opposition to war with
Iran.  Gates suffered a shoulder injury this winter when he slipped on ice ourside his Washington DC home.
(AFP/File/Raveendran)


Fallon is expected to step down at the end of the month, after barely a year in his position, and just eight days before Petraeus is scheduled to testify before Congress about conditions in Iraq. Military officers said it appeared that it was made clear to Fallon that nobody would object if he stepped down.

Admiral Fallon reached this difficult decision entirely on his own,” Gates said yesterday in an unscheduled news conference. He added: “I believe it was the right thing to do, even though I do not believe there are, in fact, significant differences between his views and administration policy.”

The defense secretary also praised Fallon’s abilities as a strategist, even though it was the admiral’s strategic views that seemed to trouble the administration. “He is enormously talented and very experienced, and he does have a strategic vision that is rare,” Gates said.

The Esquire article, written by Thomas P.M. Barnett, a former Naval War College professor, asserted that if Fallon left his job anytime soon, it could signal that Bush intends to go to war with Iran. Asked about that yesterday, Gates called it “just ridiculous.”

Several Democrats were quick to accuse the administration of not tolerating dissent. “It’s distressing that Admiral Fallon feels he had to step down,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.). “President Bush’s oft-repeated claim that he follows the advice of his commanders on the ground rings hollow if our commanders don’t feel free to disagree with the president.” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) asked whether Fallon’s resignation is a reflection that the administration is hostile to “the frank, open airing of experts’ views.”

A likely successor to Fallon is Petraeus, some defense experts said. The general could be promoted to the Centcom post and replaced in Baghdad by Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who until last month was Petraeus’s deputy in Iraq. Odierno, who has been nominated to become Army vice chief of staff, developed a strong working relationship with Petraeus.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, center, ...
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, center, arrives for a youth soccer tournament in central Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, March 1, 2008. Gen. Petraeus will ask President Bush to wait until as late as September to decide when to bring home more troops than already scheduled, a senior administration official said Friday.
(AP photo/Dusan Vranic)
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Another possible successor mentioned yesterday is Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the head of Special Operations in Iraq. McChrystal recently was nominated to be director of the staff of the Joint Chiefs, a key Pentagon position.On Iraq, Fallon butted heads with Petraeus over the past year, arguing for a more rapid drawdown of U.S. troops and a swifter transition to Iraqi security forces. Fallon even carried out his own review of the conduct of the war — a move that surprised many Pentagon officials, in part because Odierno and Petraeus had already revamped U.S. strategy in Iraq and, with Bush’s approval, had implemented a buildup of about 30,000 additional troops, moving them off big bases and deploying them among the Iraqi population.

In the Esquire article, Fallon contends that Iraq was consuming excessive U.S. attention. In a part of the world with “five or six pots boiling over,” he is quoted as saying, “our nation can’t afford to be mesmerized by one problem.”

The article was “definitely the straw that broke the camel’s back,” a retired general said, especially because of its “extraordinarily flip, damning and insulting” tone. He noted that since it appeared last week, it has been the talk of military circles, where it was expected that Fallon would be disciplined.
 
Shah Marai/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.
Adm. William J. Fallon, left, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2007.

Fallon, one of the last Vietnam veterans in the U.S. military, was the first Navy officer selected to lead Centcom, a role traditionally granted to Army and Marine generals such as H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Tommy R. Franks and Anthony C. Zinni. One reason he was chosen to replace Army Gen. John P. Abizaid was because the administration — dealing with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a diplomatic crisis over Iran’s nuclear program — wanted a seasoned officer who could step into the job quickly, without having to learn the ropes of top command, according to a person involved in his selection.

As a veteran of Pacific Command, where he focused on dealing with the rise of China, Fallon was seen as someone who would be comfortable operating at the highest levels of diplomacy and politics. He had told colleagues that he viewed Iran as a problem similar to China — one that mainly required steady engagement rather than aggressive confrontation. That stance put him at odds with Iran hawks both inside and outside the administration.

Peter D. Feaver, a former staff member of Bush’s National Security Council, said that the public nature of Fallon’s remarks made it necessary for the admiral to step down. “There is ample room for military leaders to debate administration policy behind closed doors,” said Feaver, a political scientist at Duke University. “However, taking such arguments into the media would violate basic democratic norms of civil-military relations.”

But Richard Danzig, who served as Navy secretary from 1998 to 2001 and has known Fallon for 15 years, said Fallon’s departure will leave a significant hole in a critical region. “Any turnover in Centcom has real costs, because this is an arena in the world, more than others, that depends a lot on relationships and extensive periods of conversation and mutual understanding,” he said.

That might prove especially true in Pakistan. Fallon had become a point man for crucial military relations there as the Pentagon implements a stepped-up program to help Pakistani forces deal with Islamic extremism along the border with Afghanistan. In visits to Islamabad in November and January, he cemented ties with Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, the new armed forces chief of staff. The administration hopes that Kiyani will keep the military out of Pakistani politics while showing new aggression toward al-Qaeda and Taliban forces along the Afghan border.

Fallon’s departure also reflects Gates’s management style. During his 15 months at the Pentagon, the defense secretary has shown a willingness to move decisively in cases of internal conflict. A career intelligence officer, he demanded the resignation of Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey last year because of the way he handled the fallout from reports about substandard care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Gates also declined to nominate Gen. Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for a second two-year term, amid concerns that a Democratic-controlled Congress would grill Pace on Iraq.

Yesterday, Gates said the perception that Fallon disagreed with the administration’s policies was enough to concern Fallon that he may no longer be effective in the region. Gates quoted Fallon as saying that the situation was “embarrassing.”

Staff writers Josh White, Karen DeYoung and Peter Baker contributed to this report.

Related:
Admiral William Fallon Resigns as U.S. Mideast Military Chief

Esquire Magazine on Admiral William “Fox” Fallon

Pakistan Shift Could Curtail Drone Strikes

February 22, 2008
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WASHINGTON — American officials reached a quiet understanding with Pakistan’s leader last month to intensify secret strikes against suspected terrorists by pilotless aircraft launched in Pakistan, senior officials in both governments say. But the prospect of changes in Pakistan’s government has the Bush administration worried that the new operations could be curtailed.Among other things, the new arrangements allowed an increase in the number and scope of patrols and strikes by armed Predator surveillance aircraft launched from a secret base in Pakistan — a far more aggressive strategy to attack Al Qaeda and the Taliban than had existed before.

But since opposition parties emerged victorious from the parliamentary election early this week, American officials are worried that the new, more permissive arrangement could be choked off in its infancy. 

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/washington/22policy.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Pentagon Gives Further Discussion Of Iranian Boat Incident

January 12, 2008
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON – Recent clashes between Iranian and U.S. Navy forces in the Persian Gulf reflect Iran‘s shifted military strategy to use its Revolutionary Guard’s fast boats more aggressively in the region, the top U.S. military officer said Friday.

In a confrontation Sunday — captured on a 36-minute video the Pentagon made public Friday — military officials said boxes were thrown into the water by the Iranians, triggering concerns about potential mine threats. And in an incident last month, a U.S. ship fired warning shots at a rapidly approaching Iranian boat.

Admiral William Fallon

While there are lingering questions about the origin of menacing verbal threats heard during the confrontation…

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 http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080112/ap_on_go_
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Hillary’s Potential Fatal Flaw In Iowa

January 3, 2008

 By Robert D. Novak
The Washingon Post

Thursday, January 3, 2008; Page A19

Sen. Hillary Clinton faces tonight’s Iowa caucuses not as the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee but seriously challenged by Sen. Barack Obama, thanks in no small part to committing a strategic error: premature triangulation. The problem is reflected in what happened to a proposal for a simplified, though far-reaching, health-care plan.

 Health care is a particularly sensitive issue for Clinton. Her failed 1993-94 plan is blamed inside Democratic ranks for the Republican takeover in the ’94 elections and for freezing the entire health-care issue for a decade. While her current call for mandatory health-care coverage might seem radical, it is criticized on the left as embracing “shared responsibility” with private health insurance firms (similar to plans by Republican Govs. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts and Arnold Schwarzenegger in California). That looks like triangulation.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/02/AR2008010202487.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

From Newt Gingrich: Don’t Legislate Defeat; Work Toward Victory

September 7, 2007

September 7, 2007

Dear Friend,

Next Monday, I will give a speech at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) marking six years since 9/11 and outlining the larger war we should have been waging in order to defeat our terrorist enemies on a worldwide basis.

My speech at AEI is designed to make the case for a larger and more productive dialogue about what we need to accomplish in the Real War we’re engaged in — not only in Iraq and Afghanistan but also in dealing with our enemies on a larger strategic scale, including Iran, Syria, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and the worldwide forces of terrorism that want to destroy our civilization and eliminate our freedoms.
The reason I am speaking out is simple: We need a war-winning option, and today we do not have such an option.

Read it all at:
http://extendedremarks.blogspot.com/

Related:
Newt Gingrich For President

Excellent Gingrich Speech, National Press Club, Aug. 7, 2007