With little press attention, President Bush is actively implementing his escalation policy, even as a bipartisan majority of Congress is expected to back a resolution opposing the plan.
On January 10, hours before Bush officially announced his new policy, ABC News reported that escalation had already begun. “Ninety advance troops from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Baghdad Wednesday,” and an “additional battalion of roughly 800 troops from the same division are expected to arrive in Baghdad Thursday.”
Washington Post defense analyst William Arkin has noted “the curious silence of most of the mainstream media” about those first deployments. But the problem has subsequently worsened, as local news reports of U.S. troop deployments to Iraq have gone virtually unnoticed by the national media. A sample of overlooked reports:
AP Wire, 1/11/07:
A Marine battalion now in Iraq had expected to return soon to North Carolina, but the 900 infantry troops will stay longer as a result of President Bush’s plan to increase troops in Iraq. The 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment is one of three Lejeune-based battalion already in Iraq. Its duty will be extended 60 to 90 days, the Marine Corps said Thursday.
WIBW Channel 13, 1/25/07:
It was a bittersweet scene at Fort Riley Thursday as families said good by to loved ones heading to Iraq. The 3,400 troops are proud to be serving and are ready for their mission in Iraq. … This is all part of President Bush’s plan to increase troops in the Middle East.
William Arkin, 1/25/07:
The Defense Department has divulged that troops of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment are being extended in Anbar province for 60 to 90 days as part of the surge. The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, an additional augmented battalion with air support, is also being extended in Anbar for 45 days.
WWAY NewsChannel3, 1/22/07:
Thousands of Camp Lejeune Marines face impending deployment. They are set to begin heading off Saturday to the war in Iraq. Officials say about 4,000 Marines are slated to go overseas over the next few weeks, many to relieve thousands of troops fighting in the war on terror.
Charlotte Observer, 1/19/07
The first round of thousands of troops scheduled to go to the Middle East will begin deploying Saturday from North Carolina military bases, the military said Thursday. About 5,000 paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team will begin leaving from Fort Bragg.
These reports should not discourage Congress. The task of checking President Bush’s dangerous escalation policy is more urgent than ever.