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Iraq in a Nutshell as of December 2007

For a comprehensive, balanced 7-page assessment of the military and political situation in Iraq by retired General Barry McCaffrey after his visit in December 2007, click here. He concludes that the force level that the US could feasibly maintain in Iraq over the decade to stamp out an insurgency is half or less of what would be needed to "probably succeed." 

McCaffrey's assesses (top of page 10) that "an active counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq could probably succeed in the coming decade with twenty-five US Brigade Combat Teams."  In January 2007, we had 15 combat brigades in Iraq.  Then the "surge" announced by Bush added 5 more combat brigades by mid-year.  In September, General Petraeus re-affirmed the plan to reduce the level back to 15 combat brigades by July 2008.  New York Times, September 11, 2007.  This reduction has been widely reported as being absolutely necessary because the military is too small to sustain higher troop levels beyond then.  McCaffrey says, "We can probably sustain a force in Iraq indefinitely (given adequate funding) of some 10+ brigades.  However, the US Army is starting to unravel." 

If we know we have only about half the resources necessary to give us a probability of military success, what should be our strategy? 

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