Thursday, May 17, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- May 17th edition

May 17, 2005: An Iraqi woman reacts to soldiers conducting door-to-door searches for insurgents and illegal weapons in Tal Afar

May 17, 2002:

On to Baghdad

In Washington debate, as we all know, certain notions freeze into place, become conventional wisdom, and then are repeated mindlessly over and over again whether or not they still apply.

For a perfect example, consider the debate over U.S. action against Iraq, and in particular whether there will be an international coalition in support of it.

The almost universal answer is "no," or at the very least "not yet."

But there's a clear anti-Iraq coalition there for the taking, and it has some interesting possibilities for expanding beyond its obvious base members.

Reliable members of the budding coalition are Turkey, Britain, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, Georgia, and Oman — all of which will probably be lending us basing, operational, or intelligence help. That's not bad for a start, and provides us with the essentials for doing the job.

But important, although slightly more speculative, additions could be Russia and Jordan.

Would that we were always so "diplomatically isolated"!

Read the rest at the National Review

May 17, 2003:

U.S. set to keep control of Iraq for now

In an abrupt reversal, the United States and Britain have put off indefinitely their plan to allow Iraqi opposition forces to form a national assembly and an interim government in Iraq by the end of the month.

Instead, top U.S. and British diplomats leading reconstruction efforts here told exile leaders at a meeting Friday night that their countries' officials would remain in charge of Iraq for an indefinite period, according to Iraqis who attended the meeting. It was chaired by L. Paul Bremer, the new civilian administrator here.

Earlier Friday, Bremer signed an order banning 15,000 to 30,000 ranking members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from holding government jobs.

Reversing a previous U.S. policy that excluded only the disbanded party's most senior members and those closest to Hussein, the order decrees that full party members who served as top managers in the country's ministries, hospitals and universities must be dismissed.

It said the United States and Britain will evaluate former party members both for criminal conduct and to determine whether they might pose a threat to the security of occupation forces.

Senior U.S. military officials said Friday that the departure of several thousand U.S. Army troops has been delayed pending the outcome of Bremer's comprehensive high-level review of security in Baghdad and elsewhere in the country.

Read the rest at the SF Chronicle

May 17, 2004:

S. Korea: U.S. Wants to Shift Troops to Iraq

WASHINGTON — In a sign of the Iraq war's increasing strain on the U.S. Army, the Pentagon is considering an extraordinary shift of troops to Iraq from their garrisons in South Koreawhere they have stood guard for decades against a feared invasion by forces of communist North Koreaofficial say...

South Korean officials offered the first word Sunday that the United States wanted to move some of the 37,000 U.S. troops stationed there to Iraq, and Pentagon officials confirmed that talks were under way...

Tapping into the U.S. force on the Korean peninsula, the Cold War's last remaining flash point, would be a historic move by the Pentagon. It underscores the degree to which the military is stretched to provide enough forces for Iraq while also meeting its other commitments.

The Pentagon had planned to reduce the number of troops in Iraq to about 115,000 this spring, but an increasingly bloody insurgency forced a change in plans. The Pentagon announced this month that it now plans to keep about 135,000 troops in Iraq for at least the next year and a half.

Read the rest at Fox News

May 17, 2005:

Dueling views on Army size: Congress vs. Rumsfeld

Wednesday Congress will again take up what, in many ways, is the most fundamental military question of the Iraq war and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's tumultuous tenure: Is the Army big enough to do its job?

For more than two years, Congress has hammered the Pentagon on this point, claiming that the reliance on more than 60,000 National Guard and Reserve troops in Iraq is a sign of an Army stretched dangerously thin. And for more than two years, Mr. Rumsfeld has remained unshakable in his conviction that the answer to any manpower problems lay in ongoing efforts to transform the military from its cold-war excesses into a leaner and more efficient fighting force...

The evidence from Iraq, some say, bespeaks an Army on the brink: overdependence on citizen soldiers and a reliance on troops to take on two or three deployments. One of the resulting concerns is that they will be worn out and eventually leave - before or after the conflict is settled - hobbling the Army for years to come.

This war "has been way too demanding on ground forces," says Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Pentagon officials note that they have acted on the issue, using emergency war powers to increase troop levels temporarily by 30,000.

Read the rest at the Christian Science Monitor

May 17, 2006:

Rumsfeld Can't Promise Troop Withdrawal in Iraq in 2006

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday that he couldn't promise that a significant number of U.S. forces would return from Iraq by year's end.

Pressed by lawmakers, the Pentagon chief said he hoped for a large American troop withdrawal this year but could not assure them that would occur.

"No. No one can," Rumsfeld told a Senate committee. Still, he said. "It's obviously our desire and the desire of the troops and the desire of the Iraqi people."

Testifying alongside Rumsfeld, Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said troops cannot withdraw completely from any of Iraq's 18 provinces within the next three months, even though most are considered calm...

Lawmakers from both political parties are anxious to see U.S. troops come home, particularly as they face a congressional election this fall. Polls show that their constituents largely don't support the war as both casualties and costs climb.

The Republican-led Senate demonstrated its sentiment last year for a reduced U.S. role by voting that 2006 should be a year of major transition in Iraq.

Since the March 2003 invasion, U.S. forces have dropped from a high of 160,000 during Iraqi elections to about 132,000.

More than 2,400 American soldiers have died in Iraq. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service estimates the conflict has cost $261 billion so far, not including Bush administration requests for tens of billions more for this year and next.

Read the rest at Fox News