More Troops In Iraq?

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So, what will it be for US troops in Iraq? To "double down" or draw down? To surge in with more or begin to turn the treads for home? The debate is white hot in Washington now.

Just 12 percent of Americans support sending more troops to Iraq, according to a poll last week. But the White House is reportedly leaning toward doing just that. Maybe 20,000. Maybe 30,000. For how long is unclear.

John McCain is all for it. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said yesterday a surge is a bad idea — that the US is losing in Iraq, that there are no more troops, that it's time to pass the baton to the Iraqis.

This hour On Point: It's crunch time — to surge or not to surge in Iraq.

Quotes from the Show:

"The recommendation and planning process is a lot more complicated than most people understand. Right now, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff does have a group of recently returned senior officers ... but what they're coming up with is not some grand strategy. They are continually generating advice, looking at what's working over there and what's not working ... and passing advise down the chain and up the chain. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are not going to come up with some grand strategic plan and weigh in with the White House on that." Pam Hess

"The key thing is not the question of the number of troops that are going in but the question of the strategy and the approach on the ground. The one thing that we have never tried to do is to secure the Iraqi population ... and one of the essential tasks of any counterinsurgent effort is to provide security to the people. ... So what I'm proposing is to send in additional forces ... for the purpose of establishing security in key sections of Baghdad." Fred Kagan

"This [a surge in American troops in Iraq] is a tactical solution to a strategic mistake... . ...The issue in Iraq is how the Sunnis, and the Shiites and the Kurds are going to divide the country and the wealth or who's gonna take it all, and Baghdad is only one little part of this game. ... Fifty thousand troops, even if they could keep order in Baghdad or even critical parts of Baghdad, how long are they going to do this — for the next 5 or ten years while the political consolidation takes place? " William Odom


Pam Hess, Pentagon Correspondent for UPI

William Odom, retired US Army Lieutenant General. He is now a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute. He was Director of the National Security Agency from 1985-88 and assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence at the Pentagon from 1981 to 1985.;
Fred Kagan, Military historian and Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. In a paper published last week, he called for a "surge" of more US troops before drawing down in Iraq.Lt. Col.Paul Hughes [Ret], led the Iraq Study Group's expert working group on military and security matters senior program officer in the Center for Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations at the US Institute of Peace.

This program aired on December 18, 2006.


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