I think I’ve seen this movie before…
You’ll excuse those of us who remember the Vietnam war all to well for a creepy sense of deja vu when we read things like this:
Pentagon planners and military commanders have identified 20 to 30 towns and cities in Iraq that must be brought under control before nationwide elections can be held in January, and have devised detailed ways of deciding which ones should be early priorities, according to senior administration and military officials.
Recent military operations to quell the Iraqi insurgency in Tal Afar, Samarra and south of Baghdad are the first and most visible signs of the new, six-pronged strategy for Iraq, approved at the highest levels of the Bush administration, the officials said. While elements of the plan have been discussed in generalities recently, the officials described it in much more detail, calling it a comprehensive guideline to their actions in the next few months.
As American military deaths have increased in Iraq and commanders struggle to combat a tenacious insurgency and a deadly spate of bombings, even administration officials involved in creating the plan acknowledge that American forces face an extraordinary difficult task and that success is far from guaranteed.
The three military officers who discussed the plan have seen the briefing charts for the new strategy, and the three civilian officials who discussed it were involved in deliberations that resulted in the strategy. The civilians, in particular, agreed to discuss the newest thinking in part to rebut the Kerry campaign’s criticism.
The military plan also contains options to reduce the approximately 138,000 American forces in Iraq by brigade-size increments of roughly 5,000 troops beginning some time next year, if the security situation improves and Iraqi forces show they can maintain order. “Depending how the security looks, the force levels could be reduced,” one Pentagon official said.
Their efforts are made more difficult by the mixed performance of new Iraqi security forces, the slow pace of reconstruction projects hobbled by contract problems and guerrilla attacks and a large segment of the Iraqi population that still seems unprepared to cast its lot with the new government in Iraq.