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US military chief signals changes ahead in Iraq strategy
Cat : War Against Iraq
Date : 2006-11-11 13:59:04                      Reader : 249
immediately with UN to take over to save Iraq. British army leader already demanded withdrawal as 80% of violence in Iraq is due to presence of foreign troops . Great Middle East   project must be suspended as it serves Israel rather than U.S. , as such claimed new Middle East is mainly for distability of the region and predominance of Israel.


Associated France Press (AFP) 11/11/2006

US military chief signals changes ahead in Iraq strategy


by Jim Mannion

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US military leaders are making their own reassessment of the course in Iraq, the top US military officer said, signaling major changes ahead with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's departure.

"We should not expect to go with a plan that's chipped in stone and stay with that plan no matter what," General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday.

Key questions facing any new regime at the Pentagon will be whether to surge more US troops into the country to smother sectarian violence, and whether to move more aggressively against Shiite militias at the source of much of the bloodshed.

Last week, before his abrupt resignation, Rumsfeld and his generals opted to avoid a confrontation over the militias with Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in favor of a more rapid transition of the US-trained Iraqi military to government control.

Pace, in a series of television interviews and in comments to reporters, gave no hint of what the military brass will recommend to Rumsfeld's designated replacement, former CIA chief Robert Gates.

But he said he and the two top commanders responsible for the war in Iraq -- General John Abizaid and General George Casey -- were each taking a hard look at what the military is doing in Iraq.

"We need to give ourselves a good, honest scrub about what is working, what is not working, what are the impediments to progress, and what should we change about the way we're doing it, to ensure that we get to the objective that we have set for ourselves," Pace said in an interview with CBS television.

"We're making our recommendations. We're having our dialogue. And we'll make the changes that are needed to get ourselves more focused on the correct objectives," he said.

Pentagon officials said Pace has convened a study group of his own in the Joint Staff, bringing in mid-level strategists with recent experience in Iraq for fresh insights.

Each of the military services were asked to make them available for 60 days, an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Among the participants is Army Colonel H.R. McMaster, who commanded the cavalry regiment that retook the insurgent stronghold of Tall Afar a year ago in what has been touted as a classic counterinsurgency operation.

Pace told reporters that he will be meeting Monday with the Iraqi Study Group, a bipartisan panel that has emerged as a key outside player in redirecting US strategy in Iraq.

The group, which is led by former secretary of state James Baker and former representative Lee Hamilton, counted Gates among its members.

Even though he is now expected to recuse himself from its deliberations, his presence gives added clout to the group's recommendations, which are expected to be made public this month.

The New York Times reported Friday that a close friend said Gates returned from a recent trip to Iraq with the group expressing disbelief that Rumsfeld had not responded more quickly to the deteriorating security situation.

During the visit, Gates asked whether more US troops in Baghdad could stem the violence, and whether the training of Iraqi troops could be overhauled, but didn't take a view himself, the Times said.

Casey, who has beefed up US troop levels in Iraq to about 150,000 and concentrated them in Baghdad because of an onslaught of sectarian violence, said last month that adding more US troops had proved to have some effect in localized situations.

"But whether more US troops for a sustained period will get us where we're going faster is an open question," he said. "And that's part of the calculations that I make as I go through this."

Rumsfeld's departure is likely to open debate on what size force the United States needs to stabilize Iraq, as well as on the conditions and timelines for their withdrawal, a key demand by Democrats.

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