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After the Surge: U.S. Army Chief of Staff Casey Is Right to Be Worried

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President Bush’s “surge” strategy in Iraq—now into its second year—was supposed to be temporary. In fact, the president and many of his advisors said it would last only six months. Problem is, the president’s own military leaders know that it is not that simple. Just ask Army Chief of Staff George Casey.

"The surge has sucked all of the flexibility out of the system," Army Chief of Staff George Casey said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. "And we need to find a way of getting back into balance."

But the top commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, is now worried about how many troops he can withdraw from the country even though he and the president have declared victory after the surge. With 155,000 American troops currently in Iraq and another 4 combat brigades, or 25,000 troops, withdrawing by mid-summer, there is a question if the security gains made in the last year can be maintained.

Rather than tinkering at the margins, the United States must be prepared to either keep several hundred thousand troops deployed in Iraq indefinitely or begin an orderly withdrawal of U.S. forces. The Center for American Progress has released a detailed plan, “How to Redeploy,” about how to implement a safe and responsible redeployment of all U.S. forces from Iraq within 10-12 months. In order to lessen the risks of redeploying troops from Iraq, the Center’s “Strategic Reset” plan offers a comprehensive approach involving the regional diplomatic efforts required to get Iraq’s leaders and its neighbors to play a more constructive role in stabilizing the Middle East.

A strategic redeployment from Iraq is necessary if the United States is to improve its overall security posture in the Middle East and the world. For this reason, we need to begin drawing down all of our military forces in Iraq. Only then will we achieve the balance Gen. Casey says is necessary.

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