August 15, 2007

Shocking, I Know: L.A. Times Pullback Story Not Quite Accurate

Julian E. Barnes and Peter Spiegel posted a story in the L.A. Times today that is right now the top-blogged story on

They wrote:

Intent on demonstrating progress in Iraq, the top U.S. general there is expected by Bush administration officials to recommend removing American troops soon from several areas where commanders believe security has improved, possibly including Al Anbar province.

According to the officials, Gen. David H. Petraeus is expected to propose the partial pullback in his September status report to Congress, when both the war's critics and supporters plan to reassess its course. Administration officials who support the current troop levels hope Petraeus' recommendations will persuade Congress to reject pressure for a major U.S. withdrawal.

The expected recommendation would authorize U.S. commanders to withdraw troops from places that have become less violent and turn over security responsibilities to Iraqi forces.

But it does not necessarily follow that Petraeus would call for reducing the overall number of troops in the country. Instead, he could move them to another hot spot, or use them to create a reserve force to counter any rise in violence.

"That is the form of the recommendation we are anticipating him to come back with," a senior administration official said. But referring to the redeployment options, the official added, "I just don't know which of those categories he is going to be in."

Petraeus has not told the White House where he might recommend reductions. But military commanders have indicated in recent briefings that Nineveh province in northern Iraq and its capital, Mosul, like Al Anbar in the west, could be an area from which it might be suitable for the U.S. to withdraw.

You've got to love those anonymous "Bush administration officials." I'm sure they are useful for all sorts of things, but why are Barnes and Spiegel relying on second- or third-hand information?

Why did they not make an attempt to contact the General or his staff?

If they did, their story might have been a bit less exciting, but more accurate.

He will most likely provide a recommendation to his chain of command taking into account the needs of the Army and Marines as well as the other forces. The key will be no matter what recommendation is proffered, not to unhinge the tactical geometry and to undo the tactical momentum and successes that have been made. At this point, I don't believe anyone should take for granted that troops will be leaving or redeploying till there is more information on the trends and effects of what is happening on the ground.

That isn't nearly as dramatic a statement as what the Times is selling, but it does have the benefit of actually coming from someone on General Petraeus' staff, not some anonymous official. That comment came from General Petraeus staff, which Barnes and Speigel probably should have spoken with before publishing their article.

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Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 15, 2007 12:53 PM
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