Daily Video

September 10, 2008

Was the Troop Surge a Success? Now What?

General David Petraeus, Commander of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker’s recent reports state that the “surge” in troop levels 18 months ago has successfully reduced violence. On Tuesday, President Bush announced that 8,000 U.S. troops will leave Iraq beginning next year. He also warned that attention must be paid to rising violence in Afghanistan, where 43 U.S. troops were killed last month and reports from the ground suggest the situation is deteriorating.

In this video, Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.) U.S. Army and Brig. Gen. David McGinnis (Ret.) U.S. Army National Guard debate the relative calm in Iraq, the violence in Afghanistan and discuss the implications for future troop deployments and withdrawals as well as the political landscape of Iraq and Afghanistan.


“Everyone who has looked at this situation believes that our brigade combat teams are the glue that has held, not only the security situation together, but also a political landscape at the local level.” Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.) U.S. Army

“I’m really concerned about the fact that we’re relying so dramatically on our military to underwrite the political situation [in Iraq].” Brig. Gen. David McGinnis (Ret.) U.S. Army National Guard

“So, the — it’s — it’s really wrong to state that it’s just the soldiers with guns, and not understand the fact there’s a very decentralized expression of national power in Iraq that was not resident in Iraq back a couple of years ago, but it is there now. And it clearly is — is making a difference.” Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.) U.S. Army

“As we move our forces to Afghanistan from Iraq, I don’t see any evidence that we have even learned from that process, as we work with our NATO allies, to reorient our forces against the terrorists in Afghanistan, which is the center of our — should be the center of our strategy.” Brig. Gen. David McGinnis (Ret.) U.S. Army National Guard

Warm Up Questions

1. Why are there U.S. troops in Iraq?

2. Why are there U.S. troops in Afghanistan?

3. What was the troop surge in Iraq? Was it successful?

Discussion Questions

1. Do you think the surge was successful? Why or why not? How can you tell?

2. Under what circumstances should the American-led forces pull out of Iraq?

3. Compare and contrast the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. How do you think the United States should allocate its limited forces given what you know about Iraq and Afghanistan?

Additional Resources

Transcript of this report

Five Years In, Iraq War Pushes On

Afghanistan and the War on Terror

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