By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Jan. 11, 2007 – Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee today he believes President Bush's new Iraq strategy will succeed. "I am of conviction that this military plan - properly part of the new political emphasis and new economic plus-up - can provide the success we are looking for," Pace told the representatives.
The chairman joined Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in detailing to the committee the military aspects of the plan President Bush unveiled last night.
Pace said the plan, which calls for more than 21,000 additional American soldiers, is the result of consultations with U.S. commanders in Iraq and the region. More importantly, he said, Iraqi officials have agreed to the plan and came up with important parts of it on their own.
"The No. 1 difference between this plan and others is the political environment in which it will be implemented," Pace said. Baghdad is the center of gravity in Iraq, he said, and that is where most of the U.S. troops will go.
The Iraqi government has appointed a military commander for Baghdad. Two deputy commanders - one for east of the Tigris River and one for the area west of the river - will command nine districts in the city.
In addition, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has promised to move three extra Iraqi army brigades to Baghdad. All told, the Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi army and national police brigades in these districts. In total, 18 Iraqi army and national police brigades will operate along with local police.
An American battalion will work in each of these nine districts, Pace said. "In each sector, there will be three or four police stations that will serve as a hub of operations," he said. Iraqi and coalition forces will launch daily patrols and raids, plan strategies and maintain a presence in the sectors. They will gain the trust of the people of Baghdad, Pace said.
Pace said the increase will enable more American trainers to embed with Iraqi units. He said a troop-to-task-ratio analysis showed more American troops need to be in Baghdad to make all this happen.
The chairman said it is crucial that the commander "have freedom of operations to do what he must do to enforce the rule of law for all."
Iraqi leaders have promised there will be no political interference with those troops on the ground who are carrying out their mission. "The rule of law and the rules of engagement will refer to all criminals, no matter which community they come from," Pace said. "The communities will all be treated the same."
The plan calls for moving 4,000 troops into the Sunni-dominated Anbar province to reinforce successes there. "The Sunni sheikhs in that region have led the way in fighting al Qaeda," Pace said. "They have recruited their own sons in the thousands to join their local police forces; in fact, about 1,000 Sunni youngsters right now are in Jordan at the police academy."
These additional U.S. forces in Anbar will allow those sheikhs and the Iraqi armed forces to move out against al Qaeda and help impose order in the province, Pace said.
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