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Rumsfeld memo: Iraq tactics not working

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    Rumsfeld memo: Iraq tactics not working By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer President Bush said Saturday he wants to hear all advice before making decisions
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2006
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      Rumsfeld memo: Iraq tactics not working
      AP Military Writer

      President Bush said Saturday he wants to hear all advice before making
      decisions about changes in Iraq strategy, even as it was disclosed
      that Donald H. Rumsfeld called for major changes in tactics two days
      before he resigned as defense secretary.

      "In my view it is time for a major adjustment," Rumsfeld wrote in a
      Nov. 6 memo to the White House. "Clearly, what U.S. forces are
      currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough."

      Existence of the classified memo was first reported by The New York
      Times on its Internet site Saturday evening in a story for the paper's
      Sunday editions.

      Pentagon press secretary Eric Ruff said he was not the source of the
      leak to the Times, but confirmed the memo's authenticity to The
      Associated Press late Saturday.

      "The formulation of these ideas evolved over a period of several
      weeks," Ruff said in a telephone interview.

      He said the options presented in the paper were Rumsfeld's personal
      ideas developed in conversations with a variety of people, not part of
      a formal Pentagon review that also is under way. Rumsfeld had
      previously said publicly that he believed U.S. efforts in Iraq were
      not working well enough or fast enough, but he has not called for a
      "major adjustment" in the U.S. approach to stabilizing Iraq.

      Ruff also emphasized that Rumsfeld does not endorse any one particular
      recommendation, and that he notes in the memo that "many of these
      options could and, in a number of cases, should be done in combination
      with others."

      Lawrence Di Rita, who was Rumsfeld's chief spokesman before he left
      the Pentagon last spring, said in a telephone interview Saturday
      evening that the broad range of options presented by Rumsfeld belies
      the notion, often cited by his critics, that he is inflexible and
      reluctant to consider alternative approaches.

      "I see this thing as classic Rumsfeld," Di Rita said. "This is the way
      he operates."

      The president acknowledged the difficulties in Iraq in his Saturday
      radio address and said: "I recognize that the recent violence in Iraq
      has been unsettling. Many people in our country are wondering about
      the way forward. The work ahead will not be easy, yet by helping Prime
      Minister Nouri al-Maliki strengthen Iraq's democratic institutions and
      promote national reconciliation, our military leaders and diplomats
      can help put Iraq on a solid path to liberty and democracy."

      Bush added: "The decisions we make in Iraq will be felt across the
      broader Middle East."

      The president is under pressure to decide a new blueprint for U.S.
      involvement in Iraq. A bipartisan commission headed by James A. Baker
      III, a former Republican secretary of state and Bush family friend
      from Texas, and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana is to
      present its recommendations to Bush in the coming week.

      There is no hint in the memo Rumsfeld sent to the White House a day
      before the Nov. 7 elections that he intended to resign. However, a
      person familiar with the sequence of those events told the AP that
      Rumsfeld did know when he wrote it that he would be leaving. The
      person discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.

      Bush announced Rumsfeld's impending departure the day after Democrats
      won control of the House and Senate. The president has designated
      Robert Gates to replace Rumsfeld.

      Before listing options for change — many of which are similar to
      various proposals by people in and out of government, including
      Democratic critics in Congress — Rumsfeld noted that the situation in
      Iraq "has been evolving" and said U.S. forces have adjusted from
      "major combat operations, to counterterrorism, to counterinsurgency,
      to dealing with death squads and sectarian violence."

      Rumsfeld said the administration should "announce that whatever new
      approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis.
      This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course,
      if necessary, and therefore not `lose.'"

      At the end of his list of "above the line" preferred options, he
      recommended: "Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how
      we talk about them) — go minimalist."

      Specifics on his options checklist:

      _"Publicly announce a set of benchmarks agreed to by the Iraqi
      government and the U.S. ... to chart a path ahead for the Iraqi
      government and Iraqi people (to get them moving) and for the U.S.
      public (to reassure them that progress can and is being made)."

      _"Significantly increase U.S. trainers and embeds, and transfer more
      U.S. equipment to Iraqi security forces."

      _"Initiate a reverse embeds program ... by putting one or more Iraqi
      soldiers with every U.S. and possibly coalition squad."

      _Aggressively beef up Iraqi ministries by reaching out to U.S.
      military retirees and Reserve and National Guard volunteers.

      _Conduct an accelerated drawdown of U.S. bases, noting they have
      already been reduced from 110 to 55. "Plan to get down to 10 to 15
      bases by April 2007, and to 5 bases by July 2007."

      _"Retain high-end ... capability ... to target al-Qaida, death squads,
      and Iranians in Iraq, while drawing down all other coalition forces,
      except those necessary to provide certain key enablers" for Iraqi forces.

      _Provide U.S. security forces "only for those provinces or cities that
      openly request U.S. help and that actively cooperate."

      _Stop rewarding "bad behavior" with reconstruction funds and start
      rewarding "good behavior."

      _"Position substantial U.S. forces near the Iranian and Syrian borders
      to reduce infiltration and, importantly, reduce Iranian influence on
      the Iraqi government."

      _Withdraw U.S. forces from vulnerable positions and move to a quick
      reaction force status, operating from within Iraq and Kuwait, to be
      available when Iraqi security forces need assistance.

      _"Begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and coalition forces (start `taking
      our hand off the cycle seat') so Iraqis know they have to pull up
      their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country."

      Rumsfeld also listed a handful of "below the line" (less attractive)
      options that included continuing on the current path, moving a large
      fraction of all U.S. forces in Iraq into Baghdad, increasing U.S.
      forces substantially, setting a firm withdrawal date and pushing "an
      aggressive federalism plan" that would lead to three separate states —
      Sunni, Shia and Kurd.



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