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I find most talk from Washington these days disturbing - I'm not a supporter of surge or retreat. But perhaps that talk is designed to disturb someone else:
Iraqi PM Announces New Security Plan for Baghdad
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced a new security plan for Baghdad aimed at curbing the raging insurgent and sectarian violence that is plaguing the capital.
In a speech marking the anniversary of the Iraqi army Saturday, Mr. Maliki said Iraqi forces will begin cracking down on militants in Baghdad, regardless of their sectarian or political affiliation.
"The Baghdad security plan will not offer a safe shelter for outlaws regardless of their ethnic and political affiliations, and we will punish anyone who hesitates to implement orders because of his ethnic and political background," al-Maliki said in a speech at the 85th anniversary celebration of the Iraqi army.All done!
On Saturday he asked Baghdad residents for patience during the operation.
"We are full aware that implementing the plan will lead to some harassment to all of beloved Baghdad's residents, but we are confident that they fully understand the brutal terrorist attacks Iraq faces," al-Maliki said.
The capital city has been plagued by mostly sectarian violence in recent months, and Washington intends to release a long-awaited new strategy next week to quell the violence by Sunni insurgents and Shiite death squads.
U.S. President George Bush spoke with al-Maliki for two hours on Thursday, possibly in an effort to hammer-out the details of the strategy.
This speech from April 2006 (Tory defence spokesman Liam Fox) indicates the depth of the rot. And it's not really only "due to Iraq costs", it's more a case of the bills coming due. Here's a teaser:
This year we will spend only 2.2% of our GDP on defence. This is the smallest proportion of our national wealth that we have spent on defending our country since 1930. By the time we finish the new Wembley Stadium, we will be able to seat the ranks of the whole of the British army inside it. The Royal Navy will be smaller than the French navy. And the RAF Museum at Hendon will have more attack aircraft than the RAF does now…
Figures from Defence Analytical Services Agency show 14,460 personnel left the Army in 2006.
Tory MP and former Army officer, Patrick Mercer, told the Sun newspaper: "This is the greatest emergency facing the Army for many years, yet the government continues to talk about recruitment as if it is improving."
He added: "The facts are staggering. Battalions are reaching the point where they can hardly do their jobs in war - but they continue to be sent to the front.
"This can only put soldiers' lives in greater peril."
The Sun newspaper cited a leaked document revealing that infantry battalions were 2,788 men short - three times worse than in December 2004.
The revelations come a day after a senior officer criticised the standard of living accommodation for soldiers and their families.
Adjutant-general Lt Gen Freddie Viggers condemned cramped and decaying living quarters in barracks, saying soldiers and their families deserved better.
There are a couple of articles in the Telegraph this week that seem almost implausible, but I couldn't find anyone disputing them. The first says that the British Government is planning on drastically reducing the number of operational ships in the RN by "moth-balling" several frigates and destroyers; now, they're claiming that the Royal Navy will be putting a five year freeze on officer promotions for LCDRs and above. (Articles from the Daily Mail here and here seem to support these claims.) Is this the end of the Royal Navy as an effective force? And should we celebrate this as our final victory over the embarrassers of USS Chesapeake, or wonder why even our closest allies are expecting us to pick up more and more of the worldwide missions in the middle of a war?
Via Tim Blair, who notes
Wood is obviously a very forgiving man; his piece appears in the Age, the same paper that previously condemned him as insensitive, a graceless, undignified, blustering buffoon, and unreliable.
Looks like Steve and I want to suck up all your spare time this Saturday!
Good ideas are all over the place. In case you missed it, yesterday Frederick W. Kagan and General Jack Keane (USA, ret.) presented their plan at a conf. hosted at the AEI. Also speaking were Senators McCain and Lieberman. They have produced a compact Executive Summary and 50-page OPLAN, but you can also listen or watch the whole conf. All the appropriate links over at my place. A quick snip of the opening of the ES, with the rest of the ES after the jump.
Victory is still an option in Iraq. America, a country of 300 million people with a GDP of $12 trillion and more than 1 million soldiers and Marines, has the resources to stabilize Iraq, a state the size of California with a population of 25 million and a GDP under $100 billion. America must use its resources skillfully and decisively to help build a successful democratically elected, sovereign government in Iraq.The whole thing is worth your time.
Victory in Iraq is vital to America’s security. Defeat will likely lead to regional conflict, humanitarian catastrophe, and increased global terrorism.
Iraq has reached a critical point. The strategy of relying on a political process to eliminate the insurgency has failed. Rising sectarian violence threatens to break America’s will to fight. This violence will destroy the Iraqi government, armed forces, and people if it is not rapidly controlled.
Victory in Iraq is still possible at an acceptable level of effort. We must adopt a new approach to the war and implement it quickly and decisively.
We must act now to restore security and stability to Baghdad. We and the enemy have identified it as the decisive point.
There is a way to do this.
* We must balance our focus on training Iraqi soldiers with a determined effort to secure the Iraqi population and contain the rising violence. Securing the population has never been the primary mission of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, and now it must become the first priority.
* We must send more American combat forces into Iraq and especially into Baghdad to support this operation. A surge of seven Army brigades and Marine regiments to support clear-and-hold operations that begin in the spring of 2007 is necessary, possible, and will be sufficient to improve security and set conditions for economic development, political development, reconciliation, and the development of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to provide permanent security.
* American forces, partnered with Iraqi units, will clear high-violence Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shia neighborhoods, primarily on the west side of the city.
* After those neighborhoods are cleared, U.S. soldiers and Marines, again partnered with Iraqis, will remain behind to maintain security, reconstitute police forces, and integrate police and Iraqi Army efforts to maintain the population’s security.
* As security is established, reconstruction aid will help to reestablish normal life, bolster employment, and, working through Iraqi officials, strengthen Iraqi local government.
* Securing the population strengthens the ability of Iraq’s central government to exercise its sovereign powers.
This approach requires a national commitment to victory in Iraq:
* The ground forces must accept longer tours for several years. National Guard units will have to accept increased deployments during this period.
* Equipment shortages must be overcome by transferring equipment from non-deploying active-duty, National Guard, and reserve units to those about to deploy. Military industry must be mobilized to provide replacement equipment sets urgently.
* The president must request a dramatic increase in reconstruction aid for Iraq. Responsibility and accountability for reconstruction must be assigned to established agencies. The president must insist upon the completion of reconstruction projects. The president should also request a dramatic increase in Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds.
* The president must request a substantial increase in ground forces end strength. This increase is vital to sustaining the morale of the combat forces by ensuring that relief is on the way. The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this generation.
* The president and his representatives in Iraq must forge unity of effort with the Iraqi government.
Other courses of action have been proposed. All will fail.
* Withdraw immediately. This approach will lead to immediate defeat. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are entirely dependent upon American support to survive and function. If U.S. forces withdraw now, the Iraqi forces will collapse. Iraq will descend into total civil war that will rapidly spread throughout the Middle East.
* Engage Iraq’s neighbors. This approach will fail. The basic causes of violence and sources of manpower and resources for the warring sides come from within Iraq. Iraq’s neighbors are encouraging the violence, but they cannot stop it.
* Increase embedded trainers dramatically. This approach cannot succeed rapidly enough to prevent defeat. Removing U.S. forces from patrolling neighborhoods to embed them as trainers will lead to an immediate rise in violence. This rise in violence will destroy America’s remaining will to fight and escalate the cycle of sectarian violence in Iraq beyond anything an Iraqi army could bring under control.
Failure in Iraq today will require far greater sacrifices tomorrow in far more desperate circumstances.
Committing to victory now will demonstrate America’s strength to our friends and enemies around the world.