Magazine article Army

President Ties Troop 'Surge' to 'New Strategy'

Magazine article Army

President Ties Troop 'Surge' to 'New Strategy'

Article excerpt

President George W. Bush called for sending an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq to quell the sectarian violence there. Announcing his "new strategy" to the nation on January 10, the President took responsibility for mistakes in the war and called the situation "unacceptable."

The President blamed the recent failures to secure Baghdad on a lack of troops and the restrictions placed on the troops there. The majority of troops to be sent to Iraq-equaling five brigades-will be deployed in Baghdad with the mission of helping Iraqis dear and secure neighborhoods, protect the local population and ensure that the Iraqis left behind "are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs."

The President also ordered 4,000 troops to Anbar Province, a possible safe haven for al Qaeda, to work with local tribal leaders who "have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda," the President said.

In addition, he is increasing the number of embedded American advisers and doubling the number of provincial reconstruction teams. He is also deploying an additional carrier strike group, the LTSS Stennis Carrier Strike Group, to the region.

Along with the new strategy within Iraq, the President called for an increase in the size of the active Army and Marine Corps. The day after the President's address, secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that the Army and Marine Corps will grow by 92,000 in the next five years, with the Army increasing by 65,000 and the Marine Corps by 27,000. What had been a temporary increase of 30,000 for the Army (as announced in October) will be made permanent, meaning the Army will only need an increase of 35,000 for an end strength of 547,400. The Army currently has an end strength of 512,400.

For the first time, the President declared that America's commitment is not open-ended. He set benchmarks for the Iraqi government, and he listed a number of initiatives Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government planned to take, including a deployment of Iraqi army and national police brigades across Baghdad and a tougher stance against sectarian violence. He also listed the benchmarks: passing legislation to share oil revenues among Iraqis; spending $10 million of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects; holding provincial elections later this year; reforming de-Baathification laws; and establishing a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution. "If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises," the President warned, "it will lose the support of the American people-and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people." The President did not, however, mention any specific consequences.

While the President did acknowledge the Iraq Study Group and incorporated some of its recommendations into his new strategy, he refused one of its more controversial points: engaging Syria and Iran in talks to stabilize the region. …

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