Exit Strategy from Iraq 2005

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On November 21, 2005, the leaders of Iraq's "sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis" called for "a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a 'legitimate right' of resistance," according to the Associated Press.

"The final communique, hammered out at the end of three days of negotiations at a preparatory reconciliation conference under the auspices of the Arab League, condemned terrorism, but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens," the AP said.

Additionally, participants, which included Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and "Iraqi Shiite and Kurdish lawmakers" "agreed on 'calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces ... control the borders and the security situation' and end terror attacks."

November 2005

Plan to Plan Withdrawal

Following the Thanksgiving 2005 recess, Representatives Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) and Walter Jones (R-NC) "will begin collecting signatures ... intended to force a discussion on a process to begin withdrawing American troops from Iraq" no later than October 31, 2006, The Raw Story reported November 15, 2005. "The petitioners must collect 218 signatures to force debate on the resolution. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has introduced resolutions on several occasions, unsuccessfully, to force discussion of the Iraq war."

Pentagon: "Tentative" U.S. Troop Reduction in 2006

The Washington Post reported November 23, 2005, that "several senior military officers" said that, "[b]arring any major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year [2006] by as many as three combat brigades, from 18 now, but to keep at least one brigade 'on call' in Kuwait in case more troops are needed quickly" and "Pentagon authorities also have set a series of 'decision points' during 2006 to consider further force cuts that, under a 'moderately optimistic' scenario, would drop the total number of troops from more than 150,000 now to fewer than 100,000, including 10 combat brigades, by the end of the year."

Immediate Pullout of U.S. Troops

In a 403 to 3 vote Friday evening, November 18, 2005, "held as legislators rushed toward a two-week Thanksgiving break," the "Republican-controlled House of Representatives spurned calls for an immediate pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq in a vote hastily arranged by the Republican party that Democrats vociferously denounced as politically motivated," the Associated Press reported.

"'To cut and run would invite terrorism into our backyards, and no one wants to see troops fighting terrorism on American soil,' Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Republican from Illinois, said Friday night after the House, as planned, rejected a Republican-written resolution for immediate withdrawal." [1]

"Democrats accused Republicans of orchestrating a political stunt that prohibited thoughtful debate on the issue, and nearly all voted against the measure." [2]

"The House action came in a week that also saw the GOP-controlled Senate defeat a Democratic push for President Bush to lay out a timetable for withdrawal. Instead, senators approved a statement that 2006 should be a significant year in which conditions are created for the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces." [3]

September 2005

Preparing for Pullout

"Analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency have begun war-gaming scenarios for what might happen in Iraq if U.S. force levels were cut back or eliminated, say counterterrorism and defense sources. The officials, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive subject matter, declined to discuss specifics of the DIA analyses, which they indicate are in the preliminary stages. Some officials say that people in the intelligence community are leery about engaging in speculative exercises for fear of being accused by conservatives of undermining George W. Bush's administration policy. However, others say that this analysis could support staying the course in Iraq if a U.S. pullout would result in greater insurgent violence or a religious civil war," Newsweek reported in the September 19, 2005, issue.

July 2005

Inadequate Post-War Planning

An independent Council on Foreign Relations task force headed by former U.S. national security advisers Samuel Berger (under President Bill Clinton) and Brent Scowcroft (under Presidents Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush) concluded in the July 27, 2005, CFR report "In the Wake of War: Improving U.S. Post-Conflict Capabilities," among other things, that "chaos in Iraq was due in part to inadequate postwar planning" and that planning for the reconstruction of Iraq should have matched the "serious planning" that went into making war. [4][5]

Iraqi "Readiness" Report

"Although George W. Bush has said a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq won't come until Iraqis are ready to fight for themselves, the Pentagon won't release to the public its analysis of the progress made in standing up Iraqi forces," reported Salon's Tim Grieve, July 21, 2005. "In Washington ..., Democrats are complaining that the declassified portions of a Pentagon assessment on Iraq will not include information about the readiness of Iraqi soldiers and security forces. ... Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [said] it would be 'mindless' to publicize such information."

Undated "Secret" Memo

An undated "secret" memo written by British Defense Secretary John Reid for Prime Minister Tony Blair would appear to indicate the emergence of a possible exit strategy from Iraq.

The memo says that the "United States and Britain are drawing up plans to withdraw the majority of their troops from Iraq by the middle of next year," stating "'emerging US plans assume that 14 out of 18 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006,' allowing a reduction in overall U.S.-led forces in Iraq to 66,000 troops. The current troop level is about 160,000," according to the Washington Post, July 10, 2005.

According to the report, "While top U.S. military commanders and Pentagon officials have been hoping to reduce troop levels in Iraq for some time, the British memo is apparently the first time such a significant reduction has been outlined under a specific timetable. President Bush has refused to set a withdrawal date amid military concerns that such a deadline would allow insurgents to wait out the U.S.-led occupation.

"Reid, in a statement Sunday following publication of the memo, said the British government had 'made it absolutely plain that we will stay in Iraq for as long as is needed.'" [6][7]

Secret Memo? ... Maybe Not

Although claiming to be a "secret" memorandum, the document falls in line with earlier reports, including the January 31, 2005, World Tribune article "U.S., Britain have exit strategy: First troops out in late 2005," and the March 4, 2005, Telegraph (UK) news item which stated "Defence chiefs are planning to reduce the size of the British military force in Iraq from 9,000 to 3,500 troops within 12 months as part of a phased withdrawal from Iraq, ... In the first stage of Britain's 'exit strategy', troops will be withdrawn from three of the Army's five military bases in southern Iraq by April 2006." [8]

The Telegraph article continues to say that the "move also fits in with a plan to increase British troop numbers in Afghanistan in a renewed attempt to hunt down Osama bin Laden and other senior al-Qa'eda figures who are believed to be hiding close to the country's border with Pakistan.

"Senior American and British military figures believe that withdrawals can begin by April next year because coalition forces will have trained enough members of the Iraqi defence and police forces to take control of security throughout Iraq.

"The disclosure coincides with an announcement by a senior United States Marine Corps general that America would probably start withdrawing its troops in 12 to 24 months."

June 2005

Homeward Bound Act

The Homeward Bound Act (House Joint Resolution 55), a bipartisan binding resolution which calls for an exit plan from Iraq with a timeline, was introduced in Congress June 16, 2005, by "Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced the Bill along with additional cosponsors Martin Meehan (D-MA) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)." [9]

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Also see: Exit Strategy from Iraq: External Links