Monday, February 11, 2008

Stuck at 15

The BBC is reporting that the US is not seeing any sustained and significant changes in trend lines that would allow a further drawdown from the surge force of twenty combat brigades to the barely sustainable steady state force of fifteen brigades this summer:

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said he favours a "pause" in troop reductions in Iraq after up to 30,000 US soldiers are sent home this summer.

The Pentagon aims to decrease troop numbers in Iraq from 20 to 15 brigades. One brigade has already left, the last of the five is due to leave by July.

After meeting the US commander in Iraq, Gen David Petraeus, Mr Gates said he wanted a "period of evaluation"....

The defence secretary has previously expressed hope that the drawdown could continue until 10 brigades remained by the end of 2008.

But there have been fears that recent security gains could be reversed if too many troops are withdrawn too soon.

Another six months of fifteen brigades in Iraq will accomplish the only plausible mission left --- kicking the problem off onto another Administration. Those security gains have come from sucking the blood out of the concept of a post-Westphalian Iraqi state and devolving power to 'competing armed interesting groups' that do not have significant alignment or areas of agreement with either the United States or the Maliki government.

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