Retired General Jack Keane is an “influential member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board” who met with President Bush at the White House last week. According to media reports, President Bush is leaning toward taking Keane’s advice on Iraq.
Today on ABC News, Gen. Keane recommended sending about 40,000 more troops to Iraq for more than one year. Watch it:
Joe Sestak, a former Navy admiral recently elected to Congress, noted “we doubled our forces in Baghdad” over the summer and “there was not only no dent in violence, it increased.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: So how many troops will that take, and how long will they have to stay?
KEANE: There’s two pieces to it. One is Baghdad itself, which is the security of the people mission. That’s an additional four or five brigades to the five that are already there.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Which is a significant number of troops. That’s about 15 or 20,000 troops?
KEANE: It’s about 25,000, and then in al-Anbar, the mission would not be the security of the people. It would be to keep the insurgents and the al Qaida base off Baghdad so they’re not going to do a sideshow out there. And we would still focus on the enemy, not on the people. That would take an additional two Marine regiments out there, another 8,000 to 10,000.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you’re talking somewhere between 30,000 to 40,000 troops. For how long?
KEANE: Baghdad would probably take, to complete the mission militarily, to secure the people, would take well into the fall of the year. And then we would turn to al-Anbar with a different mission. We’d change the mission in al-Anbar then. So no longer as a supporting mission. It would be the main effort.
That’s the place we really probably wanted to start a couple of years ago, but we were never able to do it. The enemy made Baghdad the center of gravity, so we had no choice. We had to deal with it. And that would take another six to seven months. So that would probably go into ’08, as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So we’re talking about at least a year. Admiral Sestak, what’s the matter with that plan?
SESTAK: In Iraq, we’re on the road to nowhere. Putting more troops on that road is not in the interest of the United States. We have moved troops from Anbar into Baghdad before. There was not only no dent in violence, it’s actually increased.
We doubled our forces in Baghdad. If we double and triple those forces, what we’re doing is merely putting a Band-Aid out there. Number two is we’re doing exactly what we should be doing, letting the Iraqis have more political and military dependency upon us.
And third is, we are hurting here at home. Our army is strained, so if you step back and look at the picture, if the greatest army in the world with the U.S. Marine Corps cannot handle the military situation in Baghdad, who ever thinks we could ever train the Iraqi army to do so?