Writing in the Weekly Standard, Frederick W. Kagan, one of the intellectual of the surge, tries to reconcile his plan, which said “Bringing security to Baghdad…is possible only with a surge of at least 30,000 combat troops lasting 18 months or so. Any other option is likely to fail” with the plan President Bush announced last week, which called for 21,500.
The discrepancy, Kagan notes, is due to differing estimates about how many troops make up a combat brigade (Kagan’s plan and Bush’s both call for five brigades). According to Kagan:
So the surge being briefed by the Bush administration now is much more likely to be around 29,000 troops than 22,000–in other words, close to the number of combat troops the IPG recommended, and, when necessary support troops are added, close to the overall numbers I had estimated before the IPG met.
By “overall numbers” Kagan means 35,000. If this is true, and we end up with a surge of 35,000 troops instead of 21,500, be prepared for a lot of “Bush lied” charges being thrown around by the Democrats.
Kagan also adds some criticism of the Bush plan:
It remains to be seen if the Bush administration will adhere to this plan, of course. The notion of deploying the first two brigades while holding the other three in reserve is antithetical to the plan produced by the IPG, and I do not believe it to be sound. Neither am I entirely satisfied with the reduction of Marine RCTs designated for Anbar from two to one. Other elements of the administration’s plan are also significantly at variance with the proposal of the IPG, especially the administration’s emphasis on putting Iraqis in the lead at all levels, including the tactical and sub-tactical level. But the new commander, Lieutenant General David Petraeus, has not yet taken up command, and it would be best to await his plan before commenting in detail on proposals that may or may not take concrete form.
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