Centcom chief, Gen. John Abizaid, gathered his top generals here for what he called a "commanders' huddle." They described a military approach that's different, at least in tone, from what the public perceives. For the commanders, Iraq isn't an endless tunnel. They are planning to reduce U.S. troop levels over the next year to a force that will focus on training and advising the Iraqi military. They don't want permanent U.S. bases in Iraq. Indeed, they believe such a high-visibility American presence will only make it harder to stabilize the country.
Okay, David. Reduce troop levels over the next year and train and advise the Iraqi military. How is this different from what we perceive now?
The goal over the next decade is a smaller, leaner, more flexible U.S. force in the Middle East--one that can help regional allies rather than trying to fight an open-ended American war that would be a recruiting banner for al Qaeda.
I'm lost. Iraq isn't an endless tunnel, but we'll be there for at least another decade. We'll have a smaller, leaner force that helps regional allies for the indefinite future, but we won't be fighting an open-ended American war. We'll be fighting other people's open-ended wars? And if we don't have permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, where will we put out smaller, leaner force? The Holiday Inn?
"The longer we carry the brunt of the counterinsurgency fight, the longer we will carry the brunt," says Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who commands U.S. troops in Iraq.
Did Casey really say that? He must be taking rhetoric lessons from his Commander in Chief.
"The military commanders have concluded that because Iraqis have such strong cultural antibodies to the American presence, the World War II model of occupation isn't relevant. They've sharply lowered expectations for what America can accomplish.
They're just now figuring out that the World War II model isn't relevant? Appalling!
What Abizaid and his commanders seem to fear most is that eroding political support for the war in the United States will undermine their strategy for a gradual transition to Iraqi control. They think that strategy is beginning to pay off, but it will require several more years of hard work to stabilize the country. The generals devoutly want the American people to stay the course...
Ah! If their strategy doesn't work, it will be because eroding political support undermined it, because the American people didn't stay the course. Where have we heard that line before?
This Ignatius article is a total zoom job. I can't tell if Ignatius is zooming us, if the generals are zooming Ignaius, or if the generals are just zooming themselves.
There is absolutely nothing new or unexpected in any of this. They're still just making it up as they go along.