A week ago, this blog picked up on something the big media had all-but-ignored: a Pentagon plan to draw the number of U.S. troops down to about 92,000 by the end of next year."I would think that the fact that the DOD announced we were lowering the number of troops in Iraq for 2006 would be huge news, but no one seems to care," the site's author, Pierce Wetter, e-mailed me.That was before Rep. John Murtha's call to bring the troops home. Now, suddenly, withdrawal plans are all the rage. Especially ones "drafted by Gen. John Abizaid and Gen. George Casey, the two top U.S. commanders of the war," as NBC notes.
If Iraqi elections are successful in December and a new parliament seated by January, withdrawal could begin almost immediately. Military officials say it would be an incremental or phased withdrawal beginning slowly at first, with one or two battalions up to 2,000 troops at a time.Entire battalions of soldiers and Marines, now scheduled for duty in Iraq next year, would also be told they don't have to go. Some American troops would be placed on temporary standby in neighboring Kuwait ready to respond, if needed, to any major outbreaks of violence in Iraq.THERE'S MORE: In the comments, Murdoc says the 92K number doesn't include Marines... And "Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, addressing the renewed debate over American troops in Iraq, said today that any paring down of the forces there would depend on military and security conditions, and that current troop levels must be maintained at least until the December elections in Iraq," according to the Times.AND MORE: John Robb, as usual, has smart things to say about this. Particularly, about the natural consequence(s) of the isolation of US decision makers from the external reference environment. Instead of making connections, we severed them," he writes.
This isolation... drove: Bad decision making. The willingness to accept flawed intelligence on Iraq's WMD capabilities. The failure to stop the looting after the invasion. The decision to disband the Iraqi military. The failure to send enough troops.Ad hoc planning and strategy development. The lack of a plan to win the peace in the Iraq. The plethora of different military plans since then: build Sunni militias (Fallujah), stability for elections and a political solutions, aggressive counter-insurgent sweeps, clear-and-hold (oil-spots), etc.