The Bush administration is plunged in last preparations to post another 40,000 troops to Iraq early in October, raising total US strength in the country to 178,000.
The preparations were finalized as Iraqi president Jalal Talabani was received in the White House for talks with president George W. Bush Wednesday, September 14.
The Pentagon’s real plans belie Talabani’s odd statement that 50,000 American troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Washington and military sources report that the Pentagon has begun notifying the units due to leave Iraq in October that they will stay on at least until January or February 2006. Units due to be rotated out of Iraq will be kept on with the incoming units posted to relieve them.
The reasons for the buildup are twofold:
One. The massive terrorist wave engulfing Iraq today is expected to peak twice – in mid-October for the Iraqi referendum on a new constitution and, again, in mid-December for their general election.
Two. Additional combat troop strength is required for the US Iraqi command’s new strategy of rolling out troops in a broad territorial carpet across an entire region, or across the metropolitan area of a town, in place of the present method of concentrating small units at many points countrywide. (See also HOT POINTS below)
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military experts report that, in Tal Afar, this strategy was tried out partially. The plan is to square Iraq off into quarters, each of which will be isolated until it is fully cleansed of insurgents and terrorists.
Our military analysts see the most important application of the new strategy as being the isolation of Iraq’s Sunni-dominated provinces of al Anbar, in the west; Nineveh in the north – including the Sunni section of Mosul; Salahedin, where Tikrit and Ramadi are situated; and Diyalah in the south. By cutting these regions off from the rest of Iraq, US military planners hope to insulate the rest of the country from terrorist attacks for the referendum and election periods.
Another tactical innovation in preparation is the deployment of special raider units for operation against terrorist training and source bases outside Iraq, especially in Syria. This is what US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, meant when he warned Damascus in a news conference at the state department Monday, September 12, that Washington’s patience is running out and “all options are on the table,” including military.The ambassador, who is very close to the US president, challenged Syria to decide what price it was prepared to pay for piling difficulties on Iraq’s path to success. His words sounded like a threat of major military action, but according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources, what he had in mind were small, pinpointed actions against terrorist exit points on the Syrian side of the Iraqi border.