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The Military's Iraq Gamble

The Pentagon is expected to recommend expanding both the military and its presence in Iraq as part of its “double down” strategy. Another element of the plan, to be presented to President Bush on Wednesday, is likely to include a direct confrontation with Moqtada al-Sadr and his militia.


Los Angeles Times:

Such a proposal, military officials and experts caution, would be a gamble. Any chance of success probably would require major changes in the Iraqi government, they said. U.S. Embassy officials would have to help usher into power a new coalition in Baghdad that was willing to confront the militias. And the strategy also would require more U.S. spending to increase the size of the U.S. military and for an Iraqi jobs program.

Defense officials interviewed for this article requested anonymity because the deliberations over the Pentagon’s recommendations were continuing and had not been made public.

“You are dealing with an inherently difficult undertaking,” said Stephen Biddle, a military analyst called to the White House this week to advise Bush. “That doesn’t mean we should withdraw. But no one should go into this thinking if we double the size of the military, the result will be victory. Maybe, but maybe not. You are buying the opportunity to enter a lottery.”

The wild card in the Pentagon planning is Robert M. Gates, due to be sworn in Monday as Defense secretary. Gates had breakfast Tuesday with Bush and will participate, along with outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in today’s meetings.

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