Last weekend, former undersecretary of defense Dov Zakheim had an op-ed laying out advice for incoming SecDef Gates, which included moving US troops from Baghdad and Anbar to Kurdistan and the Iranian and Syrian borders while training the Iraqis to do the hard work of winning their own civil war. At the Corner, Mario Loyola (a DoD guy himself, until recently) highlighted Zakheim’s suggestions with the note that “As former senior Defense officials go, Zakheim can be placed with former Policy chief Douglas Feith as closest in thinking to Rumsfeld himself.” Sure enough, the memo leaked this weekend shows Rumsfeld advocating, among other options,
¶Significantly increase U.S. trainers and embeds, and transfer more U.S. equipment to Iraqi Security forces (ISF), to further accelerate their capabilities by refocusing the assignment of some significant portion of the U.S. troops currently in Iraq.
¶Initiate a reverse embeds program, like the Korean Katusas, by putting one or more Iraqi soldiers with every U.S. and possibly Coalition squad, to improve our units’ language capabilities and cultural awareness and to give the Iraqis experience and training with professional U.S. troops. […]
¶Initiate an approach where U.S. forces provide security only for those provinces or cities that openly request U.S. help and that actively cooperate, with the stipulation being that unless they cooperate fully, U.S. forces would leave their province. […]
¶Position substantial U.S. forces near the Iranian and Syrian borders to reduce infiltration and, importantly, reduce Iranian influence on the Iraqi Government.
There’s a lot more to chew over, but my initial sense is that this stuff may be at least as influential as — and significantly more useful than — what comes out of the Baker-Hamilton Commission.
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