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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hillary's Politics Endanger Our Soldiers Lives

The most interesting and telling exchange between Lt. Gen. David Petraeus and Hillary Clinton shows that "Hillary" doesn't give a damn that her words encouraging the enemy as long as her "political" talking points are heard.

In a move that is unusual for an active-duty officer, Petraeus also spoke against pending Senate resolutions disapproving of the new Bush strategy. Asked whether those resolutions would give encouragement to the enemy by exposing divisions among the American people, he replied: "That's correct."

His statement drew a sharp rebuke from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), who said, "I very sincerely but wholeheartedly disagree," saying the point was to send a message to Iraqis.

Sending her "message" overrides the danger her message puts our troops in.

The New York Times has Lt. Gen. David Petraeus opening statement before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

In another NYT article, Petraeus made a few other points about Iraq.

“The situation in Iraq is dire,” Lt. Gen. David Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee today. But he said the planned increase in troop levels and new tactics should enable American and Iraqi forces to provide security in Baghdad.

Nominated by President Bush to take over command of United States forces in Iraq and needing Senate confirmation for promotion to the rank required for the post, General Petraeus faced questioning this morning that was friendly on the personal level but showed clear differences over policy toward Iraq.

General Petraeus warned the senators on the committee not to expect any quick turnaround in the situation in Baghdad, where simple survival, he said, is the main objective of most people. Because of the violence, the Iraqi government “has found it difficult to gain traction,” he said at the hearing.

The general said that the military’s new approach will be for American and Iraqi military units to remain in areas they have cleared, providing a “persistent presence” that will allow Iraqi civilian leaders to make the political deals and compromises necessary for long-term stability.

“None of this will be rapid,” he said, but “hard is not hopeless.”

Responding to a question from Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, General Petraeus said that an early withdrawal of American forces from Iraq would prompt an increase in sectarian violence and probably lead neighboring powers to interfere there.

But if the American and Iraqi forces working together can begin to suppress the violence, they would be welcomed by the people. “The population wants security, no matter who provides it,” he said.

General Petraeus said he was unsure how long the additional 21,500 troops being dispatched by President Bush would have to remain in Iraq, saying he will have to assess the situation once he takes command.

The general, who recently oversaw a rewriting of the Army’s manual on how to cope with insurgencies, is “well qualified for this command,” said Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and the chairman of the committee.

Further into another Wapo article he says there has been too much emphasis put on the additional troops and not enough on how he intends to use them differently.

People who have spoken with Petraeus recently said he believes that politicians and journalists have put too much emphasis on the increase in troop numbers and too little on his intention to use them differently. Their top priority will be protecting the Iraqi population, following counterinsurgency doctrine laid out in a new Army manual, which he oversaw, that says "the people are the prize."

The plan calls for large numbers of Iraqi and U.S. forces to flow into a targeted area like an ocean tide, temporarily overwhelming militia and insurgent fighters. But unlike in the past, when the tide goes out, it will leave behind a substantial residual force of Iraq army and police units, backed up by mobile U.S. troops. In this way, planners hope to "hold" neighborhoods rather than just "clear" them of the enemy.

I have said time and again that the word "surge" is being used as talking points and the other KEY facts about the new strategy have been ignored. Looks like the Lt. General has noticed the same thing.

Petraeus commanded the 101st Airborne Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and during that unit's occupation of Mosul into mid-2004. Petraeus has been widely lauded for his effectiveness in administering Mosul, where public order decayed rapidly in 2004 soon after the 101st left.

Shortly after being appointed the ground commander in Iraq, Petraeus later observed at the time of his appointment that the US Army had been historically unprepared to fight insurgencies, and that despite having overwhelming force for conventional combat, it lacks the British experience of empire and the experience of Ulster and Malaya, and was intellectually unequipped to deal with the subtleties of guerilla warfare, noting that the British, with their colonial history had been in retrospect far better at combining local diplomacy with military force.

In June of 2004, Petraeus was charged with the task of training the new Iraqi Army and security forces as commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq. He relinquished the post in September of 2005. Petraeus then assumed command of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (CAC).

The Combined Arms Center, headquartered at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the command that oversees the Command and General Staff College and 17 other schools, centers, and training programs located throughout the United States. The Combined Arms Center is also responsible for: development of the Army’s doctrinal manuals, training of the Army’s commissioned and noncommissioned officers, oversight of major collective training exercises, integration of battle command systems and concepts, and supervision of the Army’s center for the collection and dissemination of lessons learned.

Lt. General Petraeus has been in Iraq, knows the mission is hard but can be achieved, is respected on both sides of the aisle and the politicians, on both sides of the aisle, should be listening.

My previous posts on Iraq can be found on one page here.