General Petraeus: Iraqis will have to 'learn to live' with 'sensational attacks'
America's top general in Iraq, David Petreaus, has noted that the "surge" has achieved "modest progress," but is not convinced it will bring lasting success, reports the Washington Post.
"Assessing the first two months of the U.S. and Iraqi plan to pacify the capital, senior American commanders -- including Petraeus; Adm. William J. Fallon, head of U.S. forces in the Middle East; Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of military operations in Iraq; and top regional commanders -- see mixed results," writes Ann Scott Tyson. "They said that while an increase in U.S. and Iraqi troops has improved security in Baghdad and Anbar province, attacks have risen sharply elsewhere."
"I don't think you're ever going to get rid of all the car bombs," conceded Petraeus to the Post. "Iraq is going to have to learn -- as did, say, Northern Ireland -- to live with some degree of sensational attacks."
"A more realistic goal, he said, but one that has eluded U.S. and Iraqi forces, is to prevent the bombers from causing 'horrific damage,'" continues the article.
So far, the deployment of additional troops in Baghdad is only 60 percent complete, and incoming units in many parts of the city are still conducting initial, labor-intensive operations to "clear" neighborhoods before setting up patrol bases, a pillar of Petraeus's counterinsurgency plan. Iraq's security forces have contributed the nine battalions pledged for the Baghdad operations, and rotate those forces every 90 days.
Another major concern shared by U.S. military leaders is whether the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is capable of solidifying gains in security as well as making the crucial political compromises needed to achieve peace. "Will the Iraqis generate the capacity in their security forces and in their government to sustain this over time? That's what keeps me up at night," Odierno said.
Iraqi leaders "come from narrow political backgrounds . . . but now there is an expectation they will be able to make decisions well beyond the group they represent. This is struggle for them," Fallon said.
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