Friday, January 18, 2008

Exercise in Futility

General Petraeus isn't the only one who will advise the president on troop strength in Iraq:

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters traveling with him on the last stop of a six-day trip that the Joint Chiefs will take into account a range of issues beyond the security situation in Iraq.

They will consider, for example, the effects of growing strain on troops and their families from multiple tours in Iraq, as well as the outlook for troop requirements in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Mullen said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced at the Pentagon on Thursday that he had asked the Joint Chiefs for their Iraq assessment, to coincide with recommendations from Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, as well as Adm. William J. Fallon, the commander of American forces in the Middle East.

Remember that unfortunately this report will reflect the views of those responsible for maintaining our Army and not those responsible for winning in Iraq. You'd think that they'd be just as focused on victory in Iraq as General Petraeus, but they are not. These generals will make recommendations on troops rotations that can be sustained.

I don't give a damn about their recommendations. If the President accepts advice from the Pentagon that contradicts recommendations from the field that asks for more troops to solidify our victory, we will lose the war and break the Army. Defeat in Iraq will break the Army more surely what stress will not, if in the end we win in Iraq.

Petraeus should recommend troop levels--period.

The Joint Chiefs should recommend policies to the president to meet those requested levels.

And then the President and Congress must weigh what is needed in the field, what is needed to support those numbers in the field, and what we can afford as a nation.

And in the end, the Army is a tool. If we must break it to win in Iraq, that's what we need to do. That's what every officer does when told to carry out a mission, whether it is taking a hill or taking down an enemy regime.

The mission always comes first. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have forgotten that in their narrow and unrealistic focus on relieving the stress on the Army.