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September 11, 2007

Pentagon Report To "Differ Substantially" From Petraeus' Iraq

General Petraeus makes it sound like the Centcom commander and the Pentagon brass all agree with him. Not so, apparently. Newsweek:

Newsweek has learned that a separate internal report being prepared by a Pentagon working group will "differ substantially" from Petraeus's recommendations, according to an official who is privy to the ongoing discussions but would speak about them only on condition of anonymity. An early version of the report, which is currently being drafted and is expected to be completed by the beginning of next year, will "recommend a very rapid reduction in American forces: as much as two-thirds of the existing force very quickly, while keeping the remainder there." The strategy will involve unwinding the still large U.S. presence in big forward operation bases and putting smaller teams in outposts. "There is interest at senior levels [of the Pentagon] in getting alternative views" to Petraeus, the official said. Among others, Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon is known to want to draw down faster than Petraeus. [...]

John Arquilla, an intelligence and counterinsurgency expert at the Naval Postgraduate School, is even harsher in his assessment of Petraeus. "I think Colin Powell used dodgy information to get us into the war, and Petraeus is using dodgy information to keep us there," he said. "His political talking points are all very clear: the continued references he made to the danger of Al Qaeda in Iraq, for example, even though it represents only somewhere between 2 and 5 percent of the total insurgency. The continued references to Iran, when in fact the Iranians have had a lot to do with stability in the Shiite portion of the country. And it's not at all clear why things are a little better now. Is it because there are more troops, or is it because we're negotiating with the insurgents and have moved to small operating outposts? On any given day we don't have more than 20,000 troops operating. The glacial pace of reductions beggars the imagination." [...]

According to a former senior civilian official in the Coalition Provisional Authority, Petraeus is a "total performer." This reporter observed Petraeus's political skills up close while flying with him above the Iraqi city of Mosul in a Blackhawk helicopter in early 2004. Speaking through headphones over the loud whirring of the chopper engines, Petraeus pointed out to then-Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer III how many satellite dishes had popped up on Iraqi homes during the general's tenure as commander of the 101st Airborne Division. Citing the dishes as a sign of progress, he proposed that Bremer go national with Petraeus's "Mosul's most wanted" TV show, launched to get locals to call in with insurgent tips. And Petraeus called in a large press gaggle to observe training exercises at his local Iraqi military training academy. Later, back in Baghdad, Bremer shook his head and laughed indulgently. "He loves headlines," Bremer said. "But he's very good." [Emphasis added]

Something tells me the Pentagon brass who disagree with Petraeus won't get two days in the media spotlight to say so.

Posted by Jonathan at September 11, 2007 03:56 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

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