Today’s Washington Post reports that some military generals are advocating a “declaration of victory” over al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). A military intelligence official tells the Post that Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal is the leading voice in calling for such a declaration:
Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, head of the Joint Special Operations Command’s operations in Iraq, is the chief promoter of a victory declaration and believes that AQI has been all but eliminated, the military intelligence official said. But Adm. William J. Fallon, the chief of U.S. Central Command, which oversees Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, is urging restraint, the official said.
McChrystal happens to also be one of the military generals who also fiercely advocated the declaration of “Mission Accomplished.” In April 2003, McChrystal assessed that “major combat” was over in Iraq:
“I would anticipate that the major combat engagements are over,” Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told reporters at a Pentagon briefing. He said U.S. forces are moving into a phase of “smaller, albeit sharper fights.”
Just two weeks after McChrystal’s comments, President Bush strutted aboard the U.S.S. Lincoln and — beneath the “Mission Accomplished” banner — declared, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”
The Congressional Research Service recently warned U.S. commanders have increasingly “seemed to equate AQ-I with the insurgency, even though most of the daily attacks are carried out by Iraqi Sunni insurgents.” Gen. James Jones, the author of detailed report on Iraqi security forces, said that 98 percent or more of the fighting is an internal civil conflict among Iraqis. All of which suggests that the basis for this declaration of “mission accomplished” is just as misplaced as the last one.
UPDATE: Greg Sargent notes that the Pentagon recommended McChrystal be “held accountable” for “misleading behavior” as a central player in Pat Tillman affair.