The senior American commander in Iraq, General David H. Petraeus, gave his Congressional testimony on September 10 and 11 amongst partisan uproars. He gave an assessment of the security in Iraq and gave his own recommendations that he recently laid out for his chain of command.
General Petraeus believes that the situation in Iraq is extremely complex and sometimes even frustrating.
Nonetheless, he believes that it is still very possible to achieve the objectives planned in Iraq; however it will not be easy and it will take some time.
In a joint meeting of the House Foreign Affairs and House Armed Services committees, Petraeus laid out his vision for reducing U.S. troop levels, beginning this month. He said the recent buildup of U.S. troops has lead to good results and that he predicts a transition to Iraqi security control. However, he does not guarantee that this will be a success.
In the testimony before Congress, Petraeus said that, “The fundamental source of the conflict in Iraq is competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources.
“This competition will take place, and its resolution is key to producing long-term stability in the new Iraq. The question is whether the competition takes place more or less violently.”
According to The Associated Press, the main points of General Petraeus’ testimony to Congress were met with extensive agreement among soldiers. It seems that the American troop buildup is working. It also seems that Petraeus solidified President Bush’s support among Republicans in Congress.
Few Democrats expressed anger that Moveon.org, an anti-war group, placed an ad in The New York Times, titled “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” that criticized Petraeus on the day of his first appearance before Congress.
The strain on the military, with thousands of troops having served multiple combat tours, helped “inform” Petraeus’ decision to recommend to President Bush that force levels be reduced. Petraeus’ plan calls for troop reductions to begin this month, according to The AP.
The plan Petraeus outlined is predicted to leave at least 130,000 American troops in Iraq through next summer.
Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces have achieved progress in the security arena.
In his testimony, Petraeus said that he could have waited until April to start sending home the five Army brigades that constituted the bulk of President Bush’s troop buildup.
However, the main reason Petraeus chose to start the drawdown earlier was because he recognized the enormous strain that the troop buildup has placed on troops and their families yet, Petraeus believes that the progress our American forces have achieved with the Iraqi counterparts has been quite substantial.
“I thought Petraeus was sincere, professional and composed inlight of all the negative press,” said Sarah Schiavoni, professor of political science at John Carroll University.Petraeus plans to build upon the security developments the troops and Iraqi counterparts have fought to accomplish in recent months.
Petraeus also stresses the importance of securing the population and the vital transitioning of responsibilities to Iraqi institutions and Iraqi forces.
As for political implications of Petraeus’ testimony, Schiovoni said, “I think John McCain wants more troops and Petraeus’ testimony validates McCain’s knowledge of foreign relations. Petraeus’ testimony is going to greatly help McCain’s campaign.”