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Pick for Iraq Commander Faces Senate Questioning

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, tapped by President Bush to take over U.S. military command in Iraq, underwent intense questioning before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday. Two military experts discuss Petraeus and his mission in Iraq.

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    Lieutenant General David Petraeus went before a mostly skeptical Senate Armed Service Committee this morning and acknowledged that the plan to send more American troops to Iraq may not bring quick success.


    None of this will be rapid. In fact, the way ahead will be neither quick nor easy, and there undoubtedly will be tough days. We face a determined, adaptable, barbaric enemy. He will try to wait us out; in fact, any such endeavor is a test of wills, and there are no guarantees.


    Once confirmed by the Senate, Petraeus would begin serving his third tour in Iraq since 2003. He led the 101st Airborne Division and won praise in Congress and the media for the occupation of Mosul and for his efforts to train Iraqi security forces. In 2005, he returned to the U.S. and helped author the Army's counterinsurgency manual.

    Today, Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin repeated concern the Iraqis won't live up to their end of the bargain in the president's plan.

    SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), Michigan: It's critically important that that pressure be felt by the Iraqi government. They have not complied with previous commitments that they've made. I'm very doubtful, as one senator, that it's likely they're going to carry out the other commitments that they have made.

    I just think history should make us very dubious about the likelihood that they're going to carry out these critically important commitments in the political area, as well as the military and economic area.


    Several senators voiced worries about who would be in charge of the joint U.S.-Iraqi patrols and whether the addition of 21,500 troops would be enough.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: Your numbers, by any estimate or formula that you use, that you're receiving, are either inadequate or bare minimum. Does that concern you?


    It does, sir. If you look at the counterinsurgency manual, for example, and you have the 1 to 50 ratio of counterinsurgents to citizens, you'd say that, well, for Baghdad's population you should have somewhere around 120,000 security forces.

    If you add all of the U.S. forces that will be on the ground when we have the full increase in forces, including special operations forces, all the Iraqi forces, military and police, you get to about 85,000. Not all of those are as effective as we might want them to be, particularly on the police side, as you know.

    However, there are tens of thousands of contract security forces and ministerial security forces that do, in fact, guard facilities and secure institutions and so forth, that our forces, or coalition or Iraqi forces, would otherwise have to guard and secure. And so that does give me the reason to believe that we can accomplish the mission in Baghdad with the additional forces.

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