The Blog

(Update) White House Fumble on Lt. Gen. Petraeus?

10:13 AM, Jan 12, 2007 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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The incoming commander of U.S. forces in Iraq is considered the Army's top expert on counterinsurgency. He recently authored the Army's field manual on conducting counterinsurgency operations. He served in Iraq as commander of the 101st. Lt. Gen. Petraeus also believes that he needs more forces if he is to implement his strategy as the new commander in Iraq.

The New York Times reported that during internal deliberations on the size of the surge Petraeus "wanted to ensure that he had enough troops to carry out what by all accounts will be an extremely challenging mission. He sought a commitment that all five combat brigades would be sent." Obviously, the general would be the best person to go before Congress sooner rather than later to explain why he believes he needs more forces to reinforce our soldiers and to increase the prospect of success.

Instead, I'm told that the administration has informed the Senate Armed Services Committee not expect Petraeus' nominating papers for 2 to 3 weeks. That means his hearing could be up to a month or so away. In the meantime, the Senate could very well pass a resolution opposing the surge with some Republican support. And the fact that it would be a non-binding resolution wouldn't limit the political damage to the president's new Iraq policy.

The White House should consider speeding up the process and have Lt. Gen. Petraeus testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee before any "surge" votes, if possible. Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and other Democrats and Republicans may be less inclined to support Sen. Reid's "no surge" resolution after the new ground commander says he needs a surge to do his job.

(Rich Lowry makes a good point on the administration's surge verbiage here.)