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'Surge' Strategy


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Even so, the debate over tactics has intensified inside the Pentagon. Bush is now trying to sort through wildly conflicting advice. His Joint Chiefs of Staff supports the conclusions of the Iraq Study Group that, rather than sending in a new influx of U.S. troops, American advisory teams embedded with Iraqi forces should be quadrupled so Iraqis can take control more quickly. Some hawks, led by two outside advisers, former Army vice chief of staff Gen. Jack Keane and military historian Frederick Kagan, are instead urging Bush to "win the battle of Baghdad" himself. They say he can't wait for the Iraqi government, Army or police to secure the country.

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U.S. Army officials fret they don't have the forces or equipment for the kind of long deployment (perhaps 18 months or more) that would be required. According to a former senior Army official who would describe the internal discussions only if he was not identified, "Keane told the president: 'Don't you dare let Army and Marine Corps tell you they can't do it.' Soon afterward, Gen. Richard Cody, the vice chief of staff of the Army, called Keane in and gave him the actual figures on readiness, telling him: 'Look, here's the status of these brigades today. It's not doable'." Keane did not respond to several calls asking for comment, but the senior White House aide denies that the Pentagon is resisting any surge plan. "The military leadership is committed to doing what is required to be successful," he says.

Kagan worries Bush will end up splitting the difference and decide on a smaller, short-term offensive. That, Kagan says, would be disastrous, repeating the failure of Operation Forward Together in Baghdad last summer and fall, which he blames on too few U.S. troops (about 8,000). By putting the onus for stabilizing Baghdad on U.S. forces again, a troop surge would also reverse the policy of the soon-to-depart overall commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, who is Odierno's boss. "This is the antithesis of the strategy Casey's been pursuing for two years, which is more and more Iraqi control," says Kagan. Maybe the only certainty any longer is that Odierno's new mission is sure to be a lot harder than finding Saddam Hussein.

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