ADS - Iraq War Prospects Are Bleak: Ex-Officer
July 19, 2005
Iraq War Prospects Are Bleak: Ex-Officer
By Cox News Service
WASHINGTON - The war in Iraq is stretching U.S. military forces and equipment toward a "meltdown" that could require force reductions in Iraq by next summer, retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday.
With an estimated 20,000 armed insurgents backed by perhaps 80,000 active sympathizers, the United States should not pull back until Iraqi security forces are trained and able to take their place, McCaffrey said.
"The United States Army and Marine Corps are incapable of sustaining this campaign," McCaffrey said, adding that similar stresses are being imposed upon equipment. "We are running our capital fleet into the ground."
McCaffrey, a retired four-star general who commanded a massive tank unit in the 1991 Gulf War, visited Iraq in June to assess the U.S. mission there.
He did not advocate a time line for pulling down U.S. forces and he warned against a premature reduction in troop levels before Iraqi forces are able to secure the country on their own.
U.S. forces have been engaged in a program to help train and equip thousands of Iraqi army and police forces.
There are about 127,000 U.S. troops in Iraq now, according to the Pentagon.
President Bush has said that he would increase that level if asked to do so by commanders, who have reserved the option of adding troops this fall, if necessary, to secure the constitutional referendum and elections. Commanders beefed up forces to nearly 160,000 for national elections last January.
"In the last analysis, it will be the Iraqi people who will defeat the insurgency, and it will very likely take them some time," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has said it could take 12 years to defeat the insurgents.
"Our task is to create an environment that they're able to go forward with the progress they-'re currently making," Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon.
Rumsfeld reiterated that Iraq's security and political situation would dictate how long U.S. forces remain.
With U.S. public support for the war waning, "We're in a race against time," McCaffrey said. "We're running out of domestic political support nationally."
McCaffrey said Rumsfeld is not facing facts concerning the physical limits of the U.S. deployment and its impact on the military.
"Secretary Rumsfeld is in denial of the evidence in front of his eyes," said McCaffrey, currently an adjunct professor of international relations at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
I'm really starting to like McCaffrey's presidential possibilities, he's telling the truth about sustaining force levels that the administration seems to be completely in denial about. I know he held a high appointment in the Clinton administration but am unsure if he's actually a registered Democrat. If so, he could be the mainstream candidate that the Democrat Party hasn't managed to nominate in the last two presidential election cycles.