Michael Hirsch reports:
Most top U.S. military officials — even members of George W. Bush’s administration such as National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley — did not recommend a “surge” or escalation of U.S. troops into Iraq when they were interviewed by the Iraq Study Group last fall, says group member Leon Panetta, a former White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton. Instead of a surge — which the president plans to announce in a speech to the nation tomorrow — these officials recommended at the time that more U.S. advisers be embedded in Iraqi units, Panetta says. That later led the bipartisan commission co-chaired by James Baker and Lee Hamilton to come to the same conclusion, he says. Panetta also says that the officials interviewed knew that one of the Study Group’s central recommendations — that U.S. advisory teams in Iraq be quadrupled — was largely incompatible with a ramp-up of troops. The reason? In order to increase the number of U.S. advisory teams to that degree, American combat brigades must be withdrawn so the officers in those units can be turned into advisers. That is apparently not going to happen now, at least not quickly.
Notably, according to the interview even Lieutenant General David Petraeus wasn’t on board for a surge when the ISG spoke to him six months ago. All of which reminds me, in essence, that I should link to Michael Hirsch more often. What’s more, this Center for American Progress report on congressional options vis-a-vis military deployments is vital stuff that I’ll probably write more on tomorrow.