Troop Movements

Rumors of a short-term draw-down in Iraq are once again popping up:

The United States hopes to sharply reduce its forces in Iraq within the next year, its top commander on the ground said on Wednesday.

“I do believe that if the political process continues to go positively, if the developments with the (Iraqi) security forces continue to go as it is going, I do believe we will still be able to make fairly substantial reductions after these elections — in the spring and summer of next year,” General George Casey said at a briefing with visiting Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Iraq is scheduled to hold two elections in the coming months: a referendum on a new constitution in October and an election for a new leader in December.

Casey made a similar prediction of troop cuts early this year, but U.S. officials have avoided repeating predictions that give a timetable for withdrawals since the insurgency in Iraq worsened sharply when the new government took power in April.

This annoncement appears to have coincided with statements from a top Iraqi PM:

Iraq’s transitional prime minister called Wednesday for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops and the top U.S. commander here said he believed a “fairly substantial” pullout could begin next spring and summer.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said at a joint news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the time has arrived to plan a coordinated transition from American to Iraqi military control throughout the country.

Asked how soon a U.S. withdrawal should happen, he said no exact timetable had been set. “But we confirm and we desire speed in that regard,” he said, speaking through a translator. “And this fast pace has two aspects.”

I don’t think it is unwarranted to wonder if the announcement has anything to do with new domestic poll numbers concerning the war, and it most certainly is not unwarranted to remember that al-Jaafari has been doing some jet-setting in the region, inking deals with Iran and Syria.

In other military news, plans to permanently relocate 50,000 soldiers have been finalized:

The Army has completed plans for bringing home 50,000 soldiers living overseas, mostly in Germany and South Korea, and settling them in bases across the United States where families will move less often and troops will be closer to training centers and ports, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

Several states with large bases – Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina and Texas – will have their Army populations grow, with the addition of at least one brigade, or about 5,000 soldiers, and their families.

The complex plans, which describe in detail where the troops will move, where new Army brigades will be located and which units will be renamed, have been approved by President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Pentagon officials said.

The relocation, to be completed by 2008, was described by two Pentagon officials who have worked on the project and were granted anonymity so they would describe the changes before an official announcement expected later this week.

In one of the most significant shifts of troops since the end of the cold war, the restationing program finds new homes for not only the 50,000 troops returning from abroad, but also for 30,000 new soldiers financed temporarily by Congress. Those increases are to help the Army add 10 brigades to its current 33 under a program to convert all of its combat units into more deployable modular units.

If I remember correctly, this proposal, when first floated, was met with widespread oppostion from the usual quarters. Seems to me that it is not only doable, but it makes sense and will shortly be a done deal.

30 replies
  1. 1
    SomeCallMeTim says:

    We were always going to declare victory and go home, regardless of the facts on the ground. The only question was whether we’d leave Iraq in the midst of a civil war or under the thumb of a Saddam-lite. I admit that I hadn’t considered that we make it a client state of Iran.

    But I’m guessing this doesn’t make you regret your vote in ’04 at all. Out of curiousity, how do you think that Administrations should be held accountable for foreign policy?

  2. 2
    Steve says:

    I think it would be great to have a triumphant return of a large number of troops right before the 2006 elections. Yes, let’s go with that plan.

    The question for debate is: is it better or worse for us to publicly advertise our timetables? Obviously, no one is advocating for a date we must abide by no matter what happens, but we can certainly set dates contingent on things going according to plan. I tend to be less convinced by the idea that “the terrorists will know to wait us out!” and more convinced by the idea that some of the less fanatical elements of the insurgency may be persuadable if they start to get the sense we actually intend to leave.

  3. 3
    Sojourner says:

    Cut and run. What a great plan.

  4. 4
    Cassidy says:

    Not to be a party crasher, but this has been the military’s intent for a while now. I’ve been hearing things of this nature since I got here in Feb.

  5. 5
    Sojourner says:

    Did Bush really say this?

    WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush officially responded to the latest round of London transit bombings Monday, challenging terrorists to “do their worst.” Said Bush, in a televised statement from the Oval Office: “The proud and resilient people of London can take anything the forces of evil and cowardice can throw at them. They will never live in fear of you. Bring it on. Prime Minister Tony Blair thanked Bush for his comments, inviting him to visit London and ride the Underground in a show of solidarity.

  6. 6
    Steve says:

    I’m going with “no.” Howard Dean might have said it though.

  7. 7
    sean says:

    that’s from the Onion, Sojourner

  8. 8
    Jeff Maier says:

    The Onion is clearly doing a parody of Bush’s first “bring it on” speech. A thousand, or more, military deaths and untold civilian lives later it is STILL being brought on.

  9. 9
    jg says:

    Cut and run. get the boys home in time for the 06 elections. And when Iraq falls into civil war blame the liberals who demnaded a pullout. Sound about right? BTW I’ve yet to hear or read a liberal demand immediate pullout. I have seen and read lots of wingnuts who say liberals demand pullout however.

  10. 10
    kl says:

    Did Bush really say this?

    Yes! Don’t listen to these guys. Please forward that quote to Kos and MoveOn immediately.

  11. 11
    Steve says:

    You can find individuals at dkos who demand an immediate pullout, just like you can find individuals at dkos who think Bush is a space alien, but I’m not aware of any elected Democrats who have taken that position.

  12. 12
    jg says:

    Steve, thanks for catching that. I did mean democrats or liberals that have a voice. Not the noise of far left moonbats.

  13. 13
    yet another jeff says:

    Sojourner…

    No. You know you got that from The Onion…

    You wouldn’t be trying to see if you can get them quoted in the Chinese press again, would you?

  14. 14
    Sojourner says:

    That’s a relief. I thought Bush was doing his macho thing again since it worked so well the first time.

  15. 15
    StupidityRules says:

    A bit OT, but a great piece from the Onion that isn’t there anymore.

  16. 16
    Rick says:

    Glad to learn we’re starting to extricate ourselves from the German and SoKo quagmires. I just hope civil wars don’t break out upon our withdrawls.

    Man, some exit plan for those occupations: 60 and 50+ years. FDR, Truman and Eisenhower really botched those wars.

    Cordially…

  17. 17
    rilkefan says:

    apropos, a headline via Kleiman:

    Bush Awaits Orders From Rove On Handling Of Rove Scandal

  18. 18
    Stormy70 says:

    that’s from the Onion, Sojourner

    Reality-based commentary for those who inhabit the reality-based world.

  19. 19
    Sojourner says:

    Reality-based commentary for those who inhabit the reality-based world.

    Note that I asked if it was true. I didn’t take anything on blind faith as is done on Planet Stormy.

  20. 20
    Mike says:

    “jg Says:

    Steve, thanks for catching that. I did mean democrats or liberals that have a voice. Not the noise of far left moonbats.”

    Haven’t you heard?
    They are the ONLY Voice that matters, just ask them…
    Boy are they gonna show Hillary, yessiree, sure are gonna show her.

  21. 21
    Jimmy Jazz says:

    Rumors of a short-term draw-down in Iraq are once again popping up:

    John, when the top general in Iraq stands next to the SecDef and states to the assembled press corps in an on-the-record briefing that he’s hoping for a big drawdown next summer, I’d rank that somewhere above a “rumor”. I’d call that a “stated timetable”, like the one Bush said last month we’d never set. Wasn’t this exactly what conservatives said Kerry would do? Oh well, at least we’re spared the mock outrage.

  22. 22
    Bob says:

    Plan B.

    Plan A was “We’re staying there forever!” That one wasn’t going over too well.

  23. 23
    CaseyL says:

    Well, I really don’t care that Bush is bringing the troops home in time for the ’06 elections. Considering how the war’s been a political ploy from the start, it’s a given that GOP election strategy will continue to take priority over military strategy for as long as the GOP can get away with it. The important thing is that our soldiers will be coming home.

    This quote caught my eye, though:

    ““I do believe that if the political process continues to go positively, if the developments with the (Iraqi) security forces continue to go as it is going…”

    Last I heard, the Iraqi security forces were, at best, half of what they needed to be by now; and there was still a problem with desertion.

    What’s the political situation? Other than the agreement with Iran, the half-finished Constitution that’s supposed to be voted on next month, and rumors that the civil war has already started, I haven’t heard much about it.

  24. 24
    SamAm says:

    These plans are basically meaningless until Iraq gets a permanent government. And there are 3 hurdles to that right now. Will they all be cleared on schedule? Perhaps. But the constitutional ratification step looks quite dicey indeed. Say the Sunni provinces reject the constiution. Such a public failing on the part of the Iraqi political process would make US withdrawl much, much more difficult. It would expose as un-truth the idea that we’ve accomplished our mission there and are returning on our terms. Reality; the US military can’t sustain the tempo of current operations and the public has grown unhappy with the war. You and I know that’s a large part of Bush’s desicion making, but he and his administration will never admit it. I hope a liberal and democratic constitution is enshrined on schedule, but the chances of that happening seem slim indeed. The TAL really goofed when it allowed a 3 province veto. But on the other hand, you can’t legislate inter-ethnic political harmony. So, we’ll see how it works out and hope for the best.

  25. 25
    Jimmy Jazz says:

    These plans are basically meaningless until Iraq gets a permanent government.

    You think so, huh?

    My guess: unless there is major riot-level unrest, we’re pushing the bird out of the nest come Summer. Operation Cut and Run will have the same Joementum as the invasion.

  26. 26
    SamAm says:

    Well, until a permanent government is seated the mission remains more un-accomplished than all but the most dead-end of Bush supporters would admit. The fact that the US is planning reductions either way, and irrespective of the ISF’s abilities shows, once again what a contemptable lot we have running our government.

    So actually, I’m of two minds about this. I don’t think the Bush administration has the ability (or even cares that much) to resolve details on the ground to anything resembling the outcome of how the war was sold post facto. At the same time, seeing as how PR is such a huge part of their decision making process, even they would be hard pressed to draw down our force levels without the political process being finished.

  27. 27
    Barry says:

    Rick Says:

    “Glad to learn we’re starting to extricate ourselves from the German and SoKo quagmires. I just hope civil wars don’t break out upon our withdrawls.”

    I was stationed in Germany in the early 80’s. I had had to learn lots of Army acronyms, but ‘IED’ wasn’t one of them.

  28. 28
    Defense Guy says:

    I was stationed in Germany in the early 80’s. I had had to learn lots of Army acronyms, but ‘IED’ wasn’t one of them.

    First, thanks for your service, it is as always appreciated. Second, how many years after the end of WW2 were you there? Trying to compare it is apples to oranges at best.

  29. 29
    W.B. Reeves says:

    First, thanks for your service, it is as always appreciated. Second, how many years after the end of WW2 were you there? Trying to compare it is apples to oranges at best.

    Actually it was Rick who was comparing apples to oranges.

  30. 30

    […] In a response to a post that supports the decision on moderate blog Balloon Juice, commenter SomeCallMeTim snarks: “We were always going to declare victory and go home, regardless of the facts on the ground. The only question was whether we’d leave Iraq in the midst of a civil war or under the thumb of a Saddam-lite. I admit that I hadn’t considered that we make it a client state of Iran.” […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] In a response to a post that supports the decision on moderate blog Balloon Juice, commenter SomeCallMeTim snarks: “We were always going to declare victory and go home, regardless of the facts on the ground. The only question was whether we’d leave Iraq in the midst of a civil war or under the thumb of a Saddam-lite. I admit that I hadn’t considered that we make it a client state of Iran.” […]

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