Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sestak on "This Week"

These are rough notes from Rep-elect Joe Sestak's (D-07) appearance on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Dec. 17, 2006. It was the second segment of the show, with Sestak and Ret. Army Gen. Jack Keane. At one point it was available online at As always my apologies for any errors or misinterpretations.

GS: plan for more troops

JK: security plan is part of the comprehensive situation. In terms of the strategy itself, theessence of it is the security of the people in Baghdad. Never taken this on before. Put in a 24/7 force and do not go back to bases at night.

GS: how many new troops and how long will they stay

JK: additional 4 or 5 brigades, 25K people, in Al Ambar, mission to keep insurgents off base in Baghdad, 2 marine regiments, another 10K, go into fall of year. Then move focus to Al Ambar. Another 6 to 7 months

GS: what’s wrong with this strategy

JS: We’re on the road to nowhere. 1) We had troops in Al Ambar, no effect, in fact violence increased. 2) letting Iraqis have more political & military dependence on us 3) hurting here at home, army strained. Not a military issue but a political issue. Need a date certain [for withdrawal].

GS: if we give date certain will there be an increase in violence

JS: without a doubt. No perfect strategy. They don’t have to take action because we’re there doing it. What’s the overall strategic issue for America? We need to look at North Korea, Afghanistan. We need to redeploy. Leave some special forces there.

GS: previously the joint chiefs agreed with some of JS’s points

JK: His argument is choice, can we do something in the intervening year or just cut our losses. What we didn’t do militarily in the past is see this as a security mission. There is a value in seeing this as a regional issue and want regional powers involved. Use economic incentives.

GS: Why are you convinced it can’t work?

JS: We‘re imposing what we want on the county; polls show they don’t want that. Another illusive ever changing goal. Not a military solution. Real loss not Iraq but loss in overall world security. Mentions Afghanistan again. Taliban back in southern provinces. We aren’t able to pay attention

GS: Gen, Sen Reid said Dems support an additional few months

JK: impossible. Need to clear insurgents and death squads and then bring in protection forces and don’t have them go back to bases and then bring in economic incentives. Problem in past never put secure forces into areas. Iraqi forces not capable yet.

GS: Doesn’t that mean when we leave the insurgents come back

JK: The people will isolate insurgents and they don’t come back. Over relied on political solutions throughout, never saw this as a military problem

GS: Will the president accept this?

JK: doesn’t know.

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