The Surge Isn’t Working

iraq_020205.jpg There’s a perfectly good reason that war supporters, from McCain to Petraeus, are scrambling to lower expectations for September — the surge policy isn’t working.

Three months after the start of the Baghdad security plan that has added thousands of American and Iraqi troops to the capital, they control fewer than one-third of the city’s neighborhoods, far short of the initial goal for the operation, according to some commanders and an internal military assessment.

The American assessment, completed in late May, found that American and Iraqi forces were able to “protect the population” and “maintain physical influence over” only 146 of the 457 Baghdad neighborhoods.

In the remaining 311 neighborhoods, troops have either not begun operations aimed at rooting out insurgents or still face “resistance,” according to the one-page assessment, which was provided to The New York Times and summarized reports from brigade and battalion commanders in Baghdad.

According to the NYT report, much of this is due to the shortcomings of Iraqi security forces, which were supposed to help make the policy effective.

Since the start of the surge, these forces, promised by the Maliki government, either haven’t shown up or haven’t been able to do anything. Basic tasks, such as manning checkpoints and conducting patrols, have proven too challenging for Iraqi police and army units. (”That is forcing American commanders to conduct operations to remove insurgents from some areas multiple times,” the NYT added.)

As for the politics of all of this, when the White House unveiled its surge policy in January, they raised expectations. Lawmakers (and the nation) were told that we’d start to see progress quickly. Benchmarks were laid out, highlighting what we could expect to see. Creating a stable security environment in Baghdad, for example, was supposed to be complete in July. Then it was September. Now, it’s nowhere in sight.


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