Rumsfeld encourages change
During his trip to Mosul, Rumsfeld encouraged American troops to work toward the day when Iraqis would take over their own defense.
His main message over a four-city tour was quite different: that the insurgency has staying power and a seemingly endless supply of weapons, and the time has come for ordinary Iraqis to realize that they - not the Americans - will ultimately decide who prevails in this conflict.The answer to the "more troops" crowd is more Iraqi troops.
Earlier in Fallujah, the restive city that had been the insurgents' main haven until U.S. forces overran it last month - and are still rooting out holdout fighters - Rumsfeld used a simple analogy to explain his view that the time is arriving for Iraqis to take responsibility for their own security.The conflict in Iraq will not be over until the Iraqis decide that defending their country against terrorists is more important than personal safety. Furthermore, (and I hate to say this, but it's true) the more that Iraqis are dying in the defense of their country (and I do not mean being slaughtered like sheep - I mean fighting the terrorists), the more difficult it will be for the Arab nations to continue to support the terrorists. It will expose their hypocrisy in a way that cannot be easily swept away with platitudes.
Faced with a chore like digging a ditch, a typical American, he said, will grab a shovel and start digging. In Iraq now, however, the task is to step aside and get the Iraqis to dig their own ditches.
He warned against allowing the Iraqis to become too dependent on the U.S. military. More independence is what's needed, he said.
American generals also realize it and are working toward that goal.
In that meeting, Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, the senior ground commander in Iraq, made a similar point. He said Maj. Gen. John Batiste, whose 1st Infantry Division essentially rules north-central and northeastern Iraq, and who was sitting in the same meeting, must stop thinking of that as his area of responsibility and instead get local Iraqi commanders to take it as their own.This next part I could not resist including.
Batiste agreed and said that within six months he expects an Iraqi National Guard division headquarters, with 15 battalions of guardsmen, to be ready to take control of his area. There already are 11 battalions in place, he said.
"We're on the verge of something great here," Batiste said.
In his session with Metz and Batiste, Rumsfeld pointedly noted that some in Washington keep saying that American commanders in Iraq feel they need more troops, or that they're not getting the resources they need. He asked Metz: What has Batiste told you he needs that he has not received?Many Iraqis have already made the choice to defend their country, but unfortunately, far too many have not. It's no surprise that people who have been oppressed for decades might not rise from slumber immediately, but the events of the past few months, bombings of mosques and worshipers and assassinations of election workers, should wake the Iraqis to the reality that they only have one choice - fight or die. The sooner the Iraqis realize this, the sooner the terrorists lose and the sooner we can bring our troops home - to prepare for the next conflict.
Metz made no mention of troop levels, but he said Batiste could use more specialized drone aircraft used for surveillance and reconnaissance, and that he needs more linguists because many of them have succumbed to the tactics of intimidation used by insurgents.