Troop surge in Iraq: The Petraeus Report

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This article is part of SourceWatch and Congresspedia coverage of the
Bush administration's war in Iraq
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The much anticipated report by U.S. Army Lt.Gen. David Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, on the progress of the war and troop surge in Iraq is to be given to Congress on September 10, 2007,[1] although it was long-expected to be delivered on September 15, 2007.

There will be no written report

On September 7, 2007, "a senior military official" told The Washington Times that "there would be no report at all."[2][3]

"A senior military officer said there will be no written presentation to the president on security and stability in Iraq. 'There is no report. It is an assessment provided by them by testimony,' the officer said.
"The only hard copy will be Gen. Petraeus' opening statement to Congress, scheduled for Monday, [September 10, 2007,] along with any charts he will use in explaining the results of the troop surge in Baghdad over the past several months. ...
"Gen. Petraeus is expected to tell the president the surge is working but that more work is needed. He is not expected to recommend withdrawing significant numbers of U.S. troops, as the U.S. troop presence is still needed to bolster the slowly growing Iraqi security forces' capabilities."

Unofficial report

"No need to wait for the official report. Nope. Petraeus already has his talking points down," Joe Sudbay commented August 30, 2007, at AMERICAblog.[4]

On August 31, 2007, Petraeus told The Australian newspaper "during a face-to-face interview at his Baghdad headquarters"[5]—"timed to coincide" with President George W. Bush's visit to Australia on September 3, 2007, to "attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit"[6]—that the "US troop surge in Iraq has thrown al-Qa'ida off balance and produced a dramatic reduction in sectarian killings and a drop in roadside bombings."[5][7]

In his interview "preview" of the report to be given to Congress, Petraeus "foreshadow[ed] a 'gradual' reduction in the number of coalition troops in the country," The Age (Australia) reported. "Our objective, with all the coalition forces is . . . to gradually bring the surge down. Obviously we have some more months with the surge forces (still in place)," Petraeus said.[8]

"We will wait until we see the President's response to the report and we will shape our forward planning around that response," Petraeus said.[5]

Not really a "report", it's more an "assessment"

When asked August 29, 2007, in a U.S. Department of Defense press briefing, "Could you unravel, perhaps, a bit the mystery of the timing of various reporting to the president and Congress on Iraq beginning with Secretary Gates' -- when he'll present his recommendations to the president?", Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell responded:[9]

"First of all, I think it's worth clarifying, as best I understand it. We've so often referred to the Petraeus report -- and I think we want to confirm this with his people, if you like -- but my understanding of the Petraeus report is that it's actually not a report but is an assessment which he will offer both to the president and to the Congress. Now there may be actual, you know, printed testimony that they will release, but I just want to get away from this notion that there's a lengthy report that will be handed out at one point.
"As for the process beyond that, you know, we've reached a critical point in Iraq with regards to our policy and our future operations, and it is essential, therefore, that the president get the best military advice he can possibly get so that he can decide the proper way forward. Now I have no idea what State is doing on this matter, but from a military perspective, Secretary Gates has been working hard to make sure that the president will hear directly from each of his senior military advisors, including, of course, Commanding General David Petraeus. But he'll also hear from, for example, CENTCOM Commander Admiral [William J.] Fallon; he'll also hear from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Peter Pace, and from the rest of the Joint Chiefs. And as you mentioned, he will also get the advice of the secretary.
"As for how this will be done, I can't get into the specific modalities of how these communications will take place, but I will tell you this: The secretary is determined that each of these people will be able to present their advice directly and in an unvarnished way so that the president will be getting each person's individual assessment on where we are and where we should be going. And armed with all that information, he'll then be able to make the best decision on the way forward.
"Now, they may come in the end to a consensus, but the objective of the system that the secretary has put in place is not to reach consensus.
"That may be the end result, but that's not what he's looking for. He's looking for a way to sort of make sure that the normal bureaucratic massaging that sometimes eliminates the rough edges or the sharp differences between individuals does not victimize this process so that the president can get distinct -- if that's the way it turns out to be -- points of view on where we are and where we need to go."

Benchmark reports

When questioned during a August 30, 2007, press briefing whether "the Joint Staff or Joint Chiefs of Staff have [had] an opportunity to see a draft of the GAO report? And was there any comments that you made in terms of how the military views the benchmarks that were -- their assessment of the benchmarks in the GAO report that's coming out next week?", Director for Operational Planning, Joint Chiefs of Staff Maj. Gen. Richard Sherlock responded thusly:[10] Note that emphasis has been added.

"I have not seen or read the GAO report, but it's my understanding there are also two benchmark reports. There's the GAO report that's just being published, and then there's the president's benchmark report due in mid-September. I also understand that the GAO benchmark report is a report on the those benchmarks that have been achieved as opposed to the president's benchmark report, which will discuss and cite progress towards the achieving of those benchmarks. So the GAO side you have a pass/fail, whereas on the president's benchmark report, you'll be able to chart the progress and the progress that's been made towards achieving those.
"It's also important to note that many of the things outlined in the president's benchmark report are also ongoing without necessarily having achieved those benchmarks completely. For example, the government of Iraq is already sharing oil revenues with different areas of the country and different groups, in advance of fully passing those laws.
"There are a lot of reports that are getting ready to come out. The one that we are focusing on right now is the assessments and the recommendations coming in from the combatant commander and the ambassador. And we'll focus on those as they come in."

Progress doubtful

Joe Sudbay at AMERICAblog cites[11] Jon Soltz of from his August 30, 2007, article "Complete and Total Meltdown" at The Huffington Post[12]:

  1. "the GAOreport [DRAFT leaked August 29, 2007, to the Washington Post] [13] 'that finds, more or less, that Iraq is in chaos' and challenges the underpinnings of Bush's claims of success;
  2. "the [August 29, 2007,] McClatchy news article[14] that indicates military leaders won't make a single recommendation about the war to Bush; and
  3. "the shocking revelation that the Secretary of Defense [Robert M. Gates] was not told[15] about the additional request[16] for $50 billion in Iraq spending."


Also see


  1. Michael R. Gordon, "Delay Decision on Major Cuts, Petraeus Says," New York Times, September 10, 2007.
  2. "Iraq progress report," Inside the Ring/Washington Times, September 7, 2007. Note: Washington Times links expire quickly.
  3. Faiz Shakir, "No Petraeus Report," Think Progress, September 7, 2007.
  4. Joe Sudbay, "As expected, Petraeus sees progress -- just like Bush," AMERICAblog, August 30, 2007.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Dennis Shanahan, "Surge working: top US general," The Australian, August 31, 2007.
  6. Faiz Shakir, "Petraeus Attempts To Manipulate Australian Election With False Claims About Iraq," Think Progress, August 31, 2007.
  7. "Report: Top US general in Iraq says troop surge is working," Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), August 31, 2007.
  8. Miranda Devine, "General talks up progress in Iraq," The Age (Australia), August 30, 2007.
  9. Transcript: DoD News Briefing with Press Secretary Geoff Morrell from the Pentagon Briefing Room, Arlington, Va., DefenseLink News, August 29, 2007. Emphasis added.
  10. Transcript: DoD News Briefing with Maj. Gen. Sherlock from the Pentagon Briefing Room, Arlington, Va., DefenseLink News, August 30, 2007.
  11. Joe Sudbay, "Jon Soltz: Military 'just isn't willing to go along for the ride" with Bush on Iraq anymore'," AMERICAblog August 30, 2007.
  12. Jon Soltz, "Complete and Total Meltdown," The Huffington Post, August 30, 2007.
  13. Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks, "Report Finds Little Progress On Iraq Goals. GAO Draft at Odds With White House," Washington Post, August 29, 2007.
  14. Nancy A. Youssef, "Pentagon won't make surge recommendation to Bush," McClatchy Newspapers, August 29, 2007.
  15. Matt Corley, "Gates Marginalized By White House, Not Informed Of New $50 Billion Iraq Funding Request," Think Progress, August 30, 2007. Includes video.
  16. Thomas E. Ricks, "Bush Wants $50 Billion More for Iraq War. Planned Request Signals Confidence That Congress Won't Prevail on Pullout," Washington Post, August 29, 2007.

External links


Testimony before Congress

Post-testimony facts and fact checking

Petraeus' report

GAO report

Jones' Report

Related reports