Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

War, not year or two could last years

The new American operational commander in Iraq said last week that even with the additional American troops likely to be deployed in Baghdad under President Bush's new war strategy it might take another "two or three years" for American and Iraqi forces to gain the upper hand in the war.

The commander, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, assumed day-to-day control of war operations last month in the first step of a makeover of the American military hierarchy here. In his first lengthy meeting with reporters, General Odierno, 52, struck a cautious note about American prospects, saying much will depend on whether commanders can show enough progress to stem eroding support in the United States for the war.

"I believe the American people, if they feel we are making progress, they will have the patience," he said. But right now, he added, "I think the frustration is that they think we are not making progress." The general laid out a plan to make an impact in Baghdad with the additional troops. Several other military plans since the fall of Baghdad in 2003 have faltered.

He said he wanted the new American units, working with three additional Iraqi combat brigades that Iraqi officials say will be deployed in the capital, to move back into the city's toughest neighbourhoods and show that they can "protect the people," which he said coalition forces had previously failed to do.

General Odierno contrasted his approach with the last effort to secure Baghdad, effectively abandoned for lack of enough Iraqi troops last fall.

Going into Shiite neighbourhoods, particularly the sprawling working-class district of Sadr City, the base for the powerful Mahdi Army militia that has spawned Shiite death squads, will risk new strains in the relationship between American commanders and the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, Sunni leaders and, increasingly, American commanders here have accused Mr. Maliki of a strong Shiite bias.

The criticism has intensified since the sectarian taunting by Shiite guards at the hanging nine days ago of Iraq's ousted dictator, Saddam Hussein, an event personally planned by Mr. Maliki.

General Odierno said he envisaged making enough of a difference within three or four months of the new deployments to move to a second phase of the new plan, pulling American troops back to the periphery of Baghdad and leaving Iraqi forces to carry on the fight in the capital.

He said he hoped to be able to do that by August or September, but with American troops prepared to move back into the capital rapidly if commanders conclude that the pullback was "a miscalculation."

Meeting American reporters over lunch at a villa in the grounds of one of Mr. Hussein's former palaces, General Odierno was careful not to divulge details of Mr. Bush's new war plan, which the president is expected to make public in coming days, perhaps on Wednesday.

But much of the Bush plan has been leaked, including an influx of as many as 20,000 additional combat troops to Baghdad. Their arrival would be staged over coming months as American commanders watch to see whether the Iraqis, who made troop commitments before that they have not fulfilled, meet their part of the deal.

Sending up to five additional combat brigades, as suggested by administration officials in Washington who have discussed the plan with reporters, would push the American force in Iraq to at least 160,000 troops, close to the levels involved in the invasion nearly four years ago.

This so-called surge would constitute an abrupt about-face in American strategy, which has aimed in the past two years for a draw down of American troops as Iraqi forces take on greater responsibility for the war.

General Odierno, the second-ranking American commander here, will be joined in Baghdad in coming weeks by the new overall commander chosen by Mr. Bush, Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who will be promoted to full general when he succeeds Gen. George W. Casey Jr., top commander in Iraq for the past two-and-a-half years. The recasting of the war command will also include a new top officer at the Central Command, with overall responsibility for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That post will go to Adm. William J. Fallon, a Navy officer who is now the American commander in the Pacific. The appointments of Admiral Fallon and General Petraeus are expected to be approved by the Senate.

The commanders have acknowledged privately that the new Bush plan is almost certain to represent a last-chance option for persuading Americans that it is worth persisting with the heavy burdens of the war, with more than 3,000 American troops dead and overall costs that are nearing $450 billion.

NY Times



Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Sri Lanka
Kapruka -

| News | Editorial | Financial | Features | Political | Security | Spectrum | Impact | Sports | World | Magazine | Junior | Letters | Obituaries |


Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor