A Progressive Exit Strategy

1,934 U.S. soldiers have died and nearly 15,000 have been wounded in Iraq. Our military is stretched to the breaking point. Iraq has become a new haven for global terrorists, and now sits on the brink of sectarian civil war. And for this, American taxpayers will soon have paid three hundred billion dollars — $300,000,000,000.00.

Nevertheless, no alternatives to the President’s discredited “stay the course” strategy have emerged in government or among foreign policy elites. Clearly, the status quo is untenable. But implementing an immediate pull-out is neither strategically sound nor logistically possible.

Today, the Center for American Progress released a progressive exit strategy for Iraq. It will ensure the strength of our armed forces, increase chances of stability in Iraq, and culminate with the redeployment of virtually all U.S. forces out of Iraq by 2007. Some details on the plan follow:

Strategic Redeployment

Phase 1 (2006):

Shift in Iraq Forces: Drawdown 80,000 troops, leaving 60,000 US troops in Iraq by December 31, 2006.

Redeployment of Troops Within Iraq: US troops would immediately and completely redeploy from urban areas, with Iraqi police, troops, and militias, like the Kurdish pesh merga, taking responsibility for security in these areas. The top U.S. priorities would be continuing to train Iraqi security forces, tightening Iraq’s border, and tracking down insurgents with small Special Forces units.

Redeployment of Troops Outside Iraq: All Guard and Reserve troops would be demobilized and would immediately return to the United States; another 20,000 would be shifted to Afghanistan; the remaining 14,000 would be stationed in Kuwait, enabling the Army and Marines to return to the time-tested policy of allowing a soldier or Marine to spend at least two months at home for every month deployed abroad.

Phase 2 (2007):

Shift in Iraq Forces: Drawdown 59,000 troops, leaving 1,000 U.S. troops in Iraq by December 31, 2007

Redeployment of Troops Within Iraq: The remaining forces would consist of a small Marine contingent to protect the US embassy, a small group of military advisors to the Iraqi Government, and counterterrorist units that work closely with Iraqi security forces.

The report also calls for a regional diplomatic initiative aimed at securing Iraq’s borders and taking down terrorist networks; smarter support for reconstruction and political development in Iraq; and a new global communications campaign to clarify US intentions in Iraq and the region, including an unambiguous announcement by President Bush that the United States will not build permanent military bases in Iraq.

Read the full report HERE.