In their testimony today, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker made a bid for more time to stay the course in Iraq. They offered hope that with another six months there could be tangible political progress, but were tight-lipped about how long a successful outcome would actually take, or in the words of Senator Hagel, how much American blood and treasure it would require. With General Petraeus not sure if our mission is making us safer, it’s time for a change of course in Iraq that gets our valiant men and women out of harm’s way and refocuses the mission on fighting terrorists, not policing a civil war.
Crocker and Petaeus did not answer on how long U.S. forces would need to remain in Iraq- urged more time:
Ambassador Crocker Refused to Answer How Long It Would Take to Achieve Success in Iraq. Asked what he meant when he said that success in Iraq “would not be quick,” Ambassador Crocker answered, “I think in the past we have set some expectations that simply couldn’t be met. And I’m trying not to do that… In terms of concrete things like force levels, as General Petraeus said, neither of us believe we can see beyond next summer.” [Testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 9/11/07]
- Under Pressure, Crocker Conceded That Success Could Be Well Beyond Next Summer, Refused to Answer What U.S. Presence Would Look Like. When pressed, Ambassador Crocker said, “It could be well beyond the end of next summer. It certainly will be well beyond the end of next summer before Iraq can achieve the end state I’ve laid out. There’s no question. What that implies for our presence, levels and so forth, that I can’t judge at this point.” [Testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 9/11/07]
- Ambassador Crocker: “This Is Going to Take More Time.” In his testimony, Ambassador Crocker said “But I’ve got to be honest. This is going to take more time.” [Testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 9/11/07]
General Petraeus Would Not Give an Estimate of When the Long-Term Troop Drawdown Outlined by General Petraeus Would Take Place. Senator Kennedy asked General Petraeus if he would offer an estimate for the long-term drawdown of troops consistent with the plan he laid out. General Petraeus answered, “I cannot offer you that. What that does represent is our thinking on conceptually how we would adjust our mission set and also the numbers of brigade combat teams over time. And, again, the over time, my best professional military advice is that, again, I have to do that as we get closer to each of those times.” [Testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 9/11/07]
General Petraeus Refused to Answer If He Would Recommend a Continued Troop Presence of 130,000 to 160,000 If the Circumstances in Iraq Remain Unchanged. Asked if the circumstances on the ground remained the same in March, would he recommended a continued troop presence of 130,000 to 160,000, General Petraeus answered, “Mr. Chairman, I — that’s a pretty big hypothetical.” [Testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 9/11/07]
General Petraeus Conceded There Would Be At Least 100,000 Troops in Iraq One Year from Now. Asked by Senator Graham during his hearing before the Armed Services Committee if he agreed that there would be 100,000 American troops in Iraq in a year, General Petraeus responded that he did. [Testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 9/11/07]
But General Petraeus said he did not know if continuing the mission in Iraq would make us safer:
When He Announced the Surge, President Bush Said We Must Succeed in Iraq for the Safety of Our People. “On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.” [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]
- But General Petraeus Said He Did Not Know If Continuing the Mission in Iraq Was making America More Safe.
Senator Warner: Are you able to say at this time if we continue what you have laid before the congress here,this strategy. do you feel that that is making America safer?
General Petraeus: Sir, I believe this is indeed the best course of action to achieve our objectives in Iraq.
Warner: Does that make America safer?
General Petraeus: Sir I don’t know actually. I have not sat down and sorted in my own mind what i have focued on and what I have been riveted on is how to accomplish the mission of the multinational force Iraq. [Testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 9/11/07]
General Petraeus admitted that troops would have to be withdrawn from Iraq anyway:
General Petraeus Troops Reductions Were Going to Happen Anyway. General Petraeus was asked if the marine expeditionary unit that he is recommending be withdrawn from Iraq this month was scheduled to come out anyway. He responded “Sir, they’re scheduled to come out, but I could have easily requested an extension of them. And, in fact, we were — I considered that. We did request an extension earlier, and that was granted. And, in fact, so we are now allowing them to go home… The MEU is scheduled to rotate out, and that was going to happen, but we’re not asking for the Central Command strategic reserve. Again, that’s the point.” [Testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 9/11/07]
General Petraeus Conceded Troop Reductions Were Mandated by Lack of Available Troops, Not Conditions on the Ground. Under questioning from Senator Reed, General Petraeus acknowledged that he was locked into a 30,000 troop reduction by the summer regardless of what occurred on the ground in Iraq. “I do know that the active army, in particular, that the string does run out for the army to meet the year-back criteria.” He added, “Again, certainly, the active brigade combat teams were going to come out of there.” [Testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 9/11/07]
- General Petraeus Also Acknowledged There Were Not Available Reserve and National Guard Troops Either.
REED: My sense is that the Reserve and National Guard forces are not available to replace this.
PETRAEUS: I think that’s the case. But, again, I don’t know because I have not asked. [Testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 9/11/07]
General Petraeus acknowledged that gains in Anbar were political and could not be replicated throughout Iraq:
General Petraeus Admitted that Security Gains in Anbar Were Due to Political Changes. “What happened in Anbar is politics. It was the result of tribes, sheikhs saying no more to Al Qaida. That’s a political decision, to oppose an organization with which they were, at least tacitly, in league, and, perhaps, supporting.”
General Petraeus Admitted that Anbar Was Unique and Cannot Be Replicated Throughout Iraq. “While Anbar is unique and the model it provides cannot be replicated everywhere in Iraq, it does demonstrate the dramatic change in security that is possible with the support and participation of local citizens.” [General Petraeus Testimony to the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees and the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, 9/10/07, 9/11/07]