US adjusting to longer, more difficult fight in Iraq

US adjusting to longer, more difficult fight in Iraq
October 13th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: US adjusting to longer, more difficult fight in Iraq

US adjusting to longer, more difficult fight in Iraq
Media: AFP
Date: 12 October 2006

by Jim Mannion

WASHINGTON, Oct 12, 2006 (AFP) - With no end in sight to the rising
violence in Iraq, the United States is uneasily adjusting for a longer,
more difficult fight that could tie down US ground forces for three more

General George Casey, the top US commander in Iraq, served notice in
Washington this week that levels of violence in Iraq have never been higher
and are likely to stay high for some time.

Bringing it under control, he told reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday, "is
going to be a long-term process. It's not going to be something that we're
going to get done quickly."

The bleak outlook is fueling intense election year pressures for a change
in course in Iraq.

With an increasingly bipartisan clamor for an exit strategy, President
George W. Bush said at a press conference Wednesday that he agreed
completely with the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services
Committee that "if the plan is now not working ... America needs to

Bush said he told Casey he strongly supported his plan to pacify Baghdad.

"But if you come into this office and say we need to do something
differently, I support you. If you need more troops, I support you. If
you're going to devise a new strategy, we're with you," Bush said.

Casey told reporters the current strategy of creating Iraqi forces that can
assume progressively greater responsibility for security in the country was
still a "valid framework."

But he acknowledged that he has had to shelve plans to draw down US troops
from Iraq and instead keep a larger than expected 142,000-member force to
restore order in Baghdad.

A key question now facing the general is whether to bring in more US troops
amid fears that the sectarian violence is getting worse not better, with
dozens of bodies showing signs of torture turning up on the streets Baghdad
every day.

"It's a tough nut, whether or not bringing in more troops, more US troops
will have a significant long term impact on the violence," Casey said.

Extra troops have dampened the violence in Baghdad somewhat.

"But whether more US troops for a sustained period will get us where we're
going faster is an open question, and that's part of the calculations that
I make as I go through this," Casey said.

But another unstated part of the calculation is that extra troops are not
readily available.

After a military intelligence assessment leaked last month warning that the
situation in Iraq's western Al-Anbar province was dire, military commanders
said the main effort was Baghdad and they had no more troops to spare.

"Where would you like to get them from?" General John Abizaid, the
commander of US forces, said to reporters here.

The army's chief of staff, General Peter Schoomaker, said the army has
drawn up plans for troop rotations to Iraq that would maintain the force at
its current size through 2010.

If conditions improve, US force levels in Iraq could come down. But
Schoomaker said "I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can
continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot."

But if more combat troops are needed, either because of a further
deterioration of the security situation in Iraq or an emergency elsewhere,
the army will be squeezed.

Schoomaker said the army can surge to meet any forseeable contingency, but
the cost will be freezing deployed units in place.

With 23 of the army's 36 combat brigades deployed worldwide, the army is
having to rotate them with only about a year and a half between combat
tours to rest, re-equip and train.

Schoomaker, who is seeking a huge boost in the army's budget, is calling
for an acceleration of the service's efforts to re-organize and equip
itself for what he sees as an increasingly dangerous world.

"My military judgement it would be good to have our army transformed,
robust, prepared for a wide variety of what are unforseen (contingencies)
today but certainly not hard to speculate on," he said.

Even so, he said, it would take a decade to increase the army's size by
100,000 troops.

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the military "is looking at these
various sensitivities. And we're looking around corners up ahead and asking
ourselves how we would do things."

Similar Topics
What you didn't know about Iraq
Iraqi and American views on the various problems in Iraq.
New Rules In Iraq May Make It Tougher To Keep Insurgents
Shaking hands with Sadam Hussein
PM to send more troops to Iraq