A very important article from LA Times

Pentagon’s plan: More U.S. troops in Iraq – Los Angeles Times

“I think it is worth trying,” a defense official said. “But you can’t have the rhetoric without the resources. This is a double down” — the gambling term for upping a bet.

U.S. military planners are saying they want to have a “Battle of Baghdad” against Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi army.  Moreover, while the ISG’s report is being touted as a defeat for Bush, everyone in D.C. (Democrats included) are saying that Iraq needs a troop *INCREASE*.

“You do not want to withdraw your troops until you achieve your mission,” said Andrew Krepinevich, a counterinsurgency expert and director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “We are going to be in Iraq for a long, long time. It is going to be decades before Iraq can be left to its own devices without descending into a civil war.”

But what about al Sadr?

Military officers believe a confrontation with Sadr is inevitable. Bob Killebrew, a retired colonel and defense strategist, said the U.S. military had four to six months to take on Sadr, whose Al Mahdi militia is growing faster than the Iraqi army.

“We have to deal somehow with the militias, and Sadr in particular; he is rapidly becoming the armed power in Iraq,” Killebrew said. “Our conventional forces, not advisors, will have to team with the Iraqi army and neutralize the Mahdi army and the other militias. If we don’t do that, everything else we are talking about is hot air.”

So, what are we still doing there, and why all the talk about troop buildups?

Increasing the size of the force, Sepp said, will mean that U.S. forces continue to focus on killing insurgents, not training Iraqis. “That kind of approach is still tied to the idea that attrition, of just killing enough of our opponents, is going to get us to success,” Sepp said.

And why did we choose Iraq?

But inside the Pentagon, the study group’s overall proposals are widely seen as a withdrawal plan — and a recipe for massive ethnic cleansing in Iraq. Some officers believe that because the U.S. invasion unleashed the ethnic strains, the blood spilled from larger-scale civil war would be on America’s hands.

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