October 17, 2007

"Surge" Drawdown to Begin in December

Robert Burns of the Associated Press notes that the beginning of the end of the "surge" will begin in Iraq in December in Diyala province:

Commanders in Iraq have decided to begin the drawdown of U.S. forces in volatile Diyala province, marking a turning point in the U.S. military mission, The Associated Press has learned.

Instead of replacing the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division, which is returning to its home base at Fort Hood, Texas, in December, soldiers from another brigade in Salahuddin province next door will expand into Diyala, thereby broadening its area of responsibility, several officials said Tuesday.

In this way, the number of Army ground combat brigades in Iraq will fall from 20 to 19. This reflects President Bush's bid to begin reducing the American military force and shifting its role away from fighting the insurgency toward more support functions like training and advising Iraqi security forces.

The 3rd Brigade's area of operation will be added to the 4th Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, and will provide something of a test-bed to see if Iraqi security forces really can "step up as we stand down."

American forces will still be ready to assist Iraqi police, 1920s (former insurgents) militiamen, and Iraqi Army units in this province that was the scene of a U.S. invasion just months ago. al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) had declared Diyala's capital of Baqubah their base, and had pledged a Fallujah-like defense that would extract heavy casualties from invading U.S. forces.

Instead, the 1920s turned on their former allies, and helped allied U.S. and Iraqi Army forces in Operation Arrowhead Ripper, an operation that saw more than 200 al Qaeda killed and more than 100 arrested. Baqauba and Diyala have had comparatively low levels of insurgent activity since Arrowhead Ripper completed August 19.

Only time will tell if Iraqi security forces (Iraqi Police, Iraqi Army, and 1920s militiamen) will be able to maintain the relative peace in the months ahead, which may be seen as a barometer of how effective "surge" operations have been in dislodging insurgents and terrorists from civilian populations.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 17, 2007 11:24 AM

Look at all the good things that can happen when you dont quit, you hang tough and, in the end, you win.

Posted by: Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr at October 17, 2007 04:40 PM

well, this is the test. Hopefully Diyala province will remain relatively peaceful. I am sure we will hear of any further attacks in the province from our MSM. So if we hear nothing for the next 8-12 weeks, then maybe the new strategy is completely working.

Posted by: iconoclast at October 17, 2007 07:06 PM

I just hope they don't "draw down" too fast - pandering to the American public opinion (e.g. pull troops out fast early, avoid casualties by staying in bases) has been an ongoing flaw of operations in Iraq all along. Rather than withdrawing a brigade, putting it in reserve then deploying it where it will do the most military good seems sensible to me.

Posted by: davidp at October 17, 2007 08:48 PM

I think, davidp, that we can trust General Petraeus (another David, by the way) to remove troops with full consideration of the effects on the battlefield. He seems to know what he is doing, and I've not seen any evidence of him pandering to the polls.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 17, 2007 08:59 PM