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…that Andy noted has plenty of disturbing stuff in it. But further down it’s not so downbeat, reflecting the view of officers on the ground who think the surge has a chance. There’s this:

Against those concerns, American officers cite several factors they believe will lend impetus to the new offensive. The five additional brigades of American troops committed by President Bush — approximately 21,500 American soldiers, about 80 percent of them to be deployed in Baghdad — will roughly triple the numbers of American soldiers available for ground operations, as a relatively small proportion of the new troop strength will be needed for “force protection,” the military term for troops who safeguard bases and ensure the safety of other soldiers.

Since the resignation of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld after the November elections, American commanders here have been more candid in acknowledging something Mr. Rumsfeld often disputed: that the commanders have had to play shell games with thinly stretched troops, and that many crucial operations, including previous attempts to secure Baghdad, have failed because troops have often been moved on to other operations, allowing insurgents and militia groups to retake areas vacated by the Americans. The new plan, the Americans say, will go a long way toward redressing that problem, at least in Baghdad.

And this:

Many officers interviewed for this article said they still believed the tide of the war here can be reversed, with the additional troops, the focus on regaining control of Baghdad and the more consistent military strategy they said they expected from General Petraeus…

While American officers are confident the additional troops will make a major impact, they worry about what will happen when the American troop commitment is scaled down again, and Iraqi troops are left facing the main burden of patrolling the city.

And this, on holding:

The number of Americans to be based at the new joint security centers is another matter under debate. At a minimum, according to officers involved in the planning, there will be an American platoon, about 30 to 40 troops, working from each new center, with another platoon patrolling nearby, serving as both a quick reaction force to quell any surge of violence in the area and also to protect the Americans stationed with the Iraqis.

That places American soldiers directly in neighborhoods where, until now, they have appeared only transiently on patrols and raids. Under the new plan, they will work closely with the Iraqi Army and police in an attempt to establish a trust that has been elusive. The approach has been modeled on a successful American campaign effort 18 months ago in Tal Afar, a northern city that saw dramatic drops in violence and is now regarded as one of the few success stories of the American campaign.


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