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On April 18, 2007, Iraqi authorities assumed responsibility for maintaining the security of Maysan Province in southeastern Iraq. The transfer, known as Provincial Iraqi Control, was directed by the Iraqi Ministerial Committee on National Security.More here - including maps.
Maysan is the fourth (of eighteen) Iraqi provinces where security control is now in the hands of Iraqis, with Coalition forces standing ready to provide assistance if needed. In a ceremony on July 13, 2006, Muthanna province was the first to transfer. The second province to transition was Dhi Qar in September, followed by Najaf in December.
BAGHDAD (AFP) - An avalanche of car bomb attacks on Shiite districts of Baghdad slaughtered 160 people on Wednesday and delivered a savage blow to the credibility of two-month-old US security plan.
The terrorists were less than content to have this be the main Iraq story of the day.
AMARA, Iraq, April 18 (Reuters) - Iraq plans to take security control of all its provinces from foreign forces by the end of the year, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in a speech read out by a senior official on Wednesday.
AKA "Re: the further politicization of the military"
Last year the Democrat's favorite retired generals had two goals: get rid of Don Rumsfeld, and get more troops into Iraq:
Batiste and two other retired officers spoke before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, a rump group with little legislative clout but access to a proper Senate hearing room. And Batiste made up for lost time.This year they've been replaced by new favorites:
"Donald Rumsfeld is not a competent wartime leader," said Batiste, wearing a pinstripe suit, calling himself a "lifelong Republican" and bearing a slight resemblance to Oliver North. "He surrounds himself with like-minded and compliant subordinates who do not grasp the importance of the principles of war, the complexities of Iraq or the human dimension of warfare. . . . Bottom line: His plan allowed the insurgency to take root and metastasize to where it is today."
Batiste and his colleagues offered their solution: more troops, more money and more time in Iraq.
"We must mobilize our country for a protracted challenge," Batiste warned.
"We better be planning for at least a minimum of a decade or longer," contributed retired Marine Col. Thomas Hammes.
"We are, conservatively, 60,000 soldiers short," added retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of building the Iraqi Security Forces.
Flanked by two former Army retired generals Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) blasted President Bush for “clinging to a failed escalation strategy” in Iraq and “failing our troops and our country.”"Props", he said, apparently without irony.
One general went so far as to say that active duty military officers were being used as “props” by the Bush Administration.
Reid is scheduled to meet with the White House this week to negotiate the Iraq supplemental spending bill Congress passed before Easter recess that contains a timetable for withdrawal. President Bush has vowed to veto any bill that would cut funding for the troops or dictate a withdrawal date, but Reid said “the President is not going to get a bill that has nothing on it.”
With a banner behind them that said “Support the Troops” and “Transition the Mission” Reid stood with Ret. Lt. Gen. Robert Gard and Ret. Brig. Gen. John Johns and said that the surge should be abandoned.
Gen. Johns said active service military officers, like Gen. Petraeus, were being used as “props” by the administration. “The American people need to be told the truth. The only reason I speak out as a retired officer is the President, as all Presidents do, use the active duty military as props to make it appear that the military is united behind his policy.”
Speaking of props, let's give props to the Dems for flexibility, message control (did you know those retired generals were calling for a troop surge?) and the capability to reduce any national security position to a bumper sticker.
By the way, in case you're confused, this week Reid favors keeping a small number of troops in Iraq:
Reid also repeated assertions that Congress was committed to funding the troops, despite the leader's support for separate legislation that would cut off money for combat missions after March 2008.Meanwhile, over at the House, they're putting the "fun" back in funding. The Washington Times:
Reid said his promise to fund the troops is not at odds with the proposal because the measure would fund troops to stay in Iraq so long as they were engaged in non-combat missions. Those include counterterrorism and training of Iraq security forces.
Pelosi Stalls On War Bill ConfereesElsewhere (link subscription-only):
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday delayed appointing lawmakers to finish a war-funding bill, putting off the emergency legislation for the second day since returning from the House's two-week spring break.
Both bills contain about $20 billion in nonmilitary spending, including pork-barrel projects that lured support from some skeptical lawmakers, bringing the Senate bill to $123 billion and the House version to $124 billion.
Murtha Blasts Pentagon For Trying To Pressure Congress Regarding SupplementalThough "dire straits" may indeed be some weeks away, the impact is already being felt. Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined the Pentagon's plans for dealing with budget shortfalls last month. All done!
According to the April 16 memo from the Army secretary to members of Congress, the Pentagon plans to ask Congress for the approval to reprogram $1.6 billion from Navy and Air Force personnel accounts to pay for Army operating expenses and outlines the potential consequences of a failure to pass the supplemental.
...John Murtha (D-Pa.) said the public nature of the Pentagon's unapproved reprogramming request "gets under my nerves" and argued the statement was sent to pressure Congress.
"It's just irritating," Murtha said, adding that the subcommittee has responded to the needs of the military in the past. He added that the Army is not going to be in "dire straits" until June.
Due to catering orders, etc., we're going to cut off registration for the 2007 MilBlog Conference at midnight on April 27. All registrations must be made in advance, on-site registration will not be available. If you've been sitting on the fence and haven't registered, better hurry.
For potential sponsors, we still have a few packages available. Programs and signage are going to print on Monday, so if you want to purchase a sponsorship, the clock is ticking.
Matt's getting ready, he's already rallying the troops for cocktail hour(s).
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, visiting the Middle East, will urge leaders to back Iraq’s government and to put aside their doubts about Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s ability to curtail sectarian violence, a senior Defense Department official traveling with Mr. Gates said on the plane trip here.Meanwhile,
Mr. Gates is on his third visit to the region since taking office in December.
Saudi Arabia has agreed to forgive 80 percent of the more than $15 billion that Iraq owes the kingdom, Iraqi and Saudi officials said yesterday, a major step given Saudi reluctance to provide financial assistance to the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.
But for others, it's all about the oil:
But Iraqi Finance Minister Bayan Jabr said in an interview that Russia was holding out on debt forgiveness until talks begin on concessions that Russian oil and gas companies had under Saddam Hussein. Russian Embassy officials in Washington declined to comment late yesterday.Now back to our first story:
Russian President Vladimir Putin in December 2003 announced that he would cancel 65 percent of Iraq's debt, and Jabr said that five months ago Russia said it would cancel 80 percent. But Iraq's ambassador to the United States, Samir Sumaidaie, said Russian officials had recently backtracked from that pledge.
"They said that discussions would be based on economic relations," the ambassador said. "Those are code words for whether we let them continue with their oil contracts."
Mr. Gates will seek to reassure Israel that planned American arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states will not threaten the Israeli military superiority in the region, the senior official said. The administration is considering an increase in military aid to Israel to offset the possible sales of sophisticated missile defense systems, naval ships and precision guided munitions to Arab countries, administration officials said.All done!
Kyndra Rotunda writes in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only):
CBS's hit series "Criminal Minds" recently aired an episode entitled "Lessons Learned," where FBI agents traveled to Guantanamo Bay and coaxed a confession from a known terrorist detainee that led to the prevention of an anthrax attack on a Northern Virginia shopping mall. The point of the story was that the regular interrogation tactics (pictured as brutal assaults on the prisoner) were not working, and that the military should adopt the enlightened methods of the crack interrogators from "Criminal Minds."Fortunately the military can respond to this sort of thing.
Having served as an Army Judge Advocate General's Corps officer in Gitmo, a legal adviser to criminal investigators pursuing leads in the war on terror, and a Military Commissions prosecutor, I have first-hand knowledge and experience about what happens there. And here is the ironic truth: The military has outlawed some of the "Criminal Minds" interrogators' tactics -- in response to pressure by the international community.
On TV, an analyst observed the detainee's behavior from an adjoining room behind two-way glass for revealing body movements and language. Subtle movements and body language signaled which statements were true and which were false, leading to a breakthrough that saved lives. In reality, when such a tactic was used at Gitmo the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called it "torture." Gitmo authorities used to employ Behavior Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs, pronounced "biscuits"), trained psychologists/psychiatrists who did exactly what the TV analyst did: used psychology to help interrogators learn the truth. But the ICRC considered their role in planning and assisting with interrogations "a flagrant violation of medical ethics." The military responded by curtailing the role of BSCTs.
A confidential United Nations report says the government of Sudan is flying arms and heavy military equipment into Darfur in violation of Security Council resolutions and painting Sudanese military planes white to disguise them as United Nations or African Union aircraft.
In one case, illustrated with close-up pictures, the report says “U.N.” has been stenciled onto the wing of a whitewashed Sudanese armed forces plane parked on a military apron at a Darfur airport. Bombs guarded by uniformed soldiers are laid out in rows by its side.
I expect a strongly worded statement within weeks, perhaps even going as far as demanding all such planes be immediately repainted.
Update: Well, this is interesting: The United Nations will be deploying attack helicopters to Darfur, with Sudanese approval.
The plan to bring in a “heavy support package” was first proposed last August, subject to Sudanese approval. The Sudanese balked, but finally agreed when the UN allowed that the helicopters would not be used in offensive operations. Not entirely clear why that needed to be spelled out.