Monday, January 17, 2005

This is New After All

I rather mocked a NYT article about a story that didn't seem to have any story in it. The article asserted that the US was greatly ramping up attaching US advisors to Iraqi units but the statistics it reported didn't seem to indicate any great increase. I did concede there might be a story here if only the reporter had provided more details to back it.

Well the Times did that in this story and it does indeed appear to be a major increase:

The officer, Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, said that battling insurgents and reducing the violence would still be high priorities, but that the No. 1 job after the elections would be to improve the training of Iraqi security forces, whose performance is the linchpin of America's strategy for withdrawing from Iraq.

To do that, General Vines said, as many as 10,000 American military advisers could be assigned to work directly with Iraqi units to hone the leadership skills and confidence of newly trained Iraqi officers. He said he could not give precise figures until he had assessed the situation first hand. At present, a few thousand American advisers are assigned to Iraqi units.

We don't need to beat the insurgents to withdraw troops. Just make sure that Iraqis can do the job themselves. If it takes another decade to beat the Baathists, the Iraqis can do it. Our role will be as trainers, advisers, and for a time, a reserve force in case the Iraqi military runs into something too tough. We will provide artillery and air support, too. Finally, with the Iraqi military focused inward, our forces withdrawn largely into brigade bases away from the cities will guarantee that Syria and Iran do not attempt a conventional invasion of Iraqi territory.

We already have a few thousand in this role. We'll add perhaps 10,000 to this job.

Good. The road home leads through an effective Iraqi government and military that shoulders the burden of defeating the insurgents. We can't win for them. And shouldn't.