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U.S. Should Increase Troops in Iraq, Military Historian Says

As part of a series of conversations about U.S. strategy in Iraq, Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute argues for sending more U.S. troops to Iraq amid heightened violence in the country.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, another of our conversations about what the United States can or should do next there in Iraq. And thus far, we've heard about ending the occupation, de-centralizing Iraq, improving the training of Iraqi security forces, and focusing on economic development. Tonight, it's increasing U.S. military forces.

    And Ray Suarez recorded this conversation yesterday.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    And with me is military historian Frederick Kagan, a former West Point professor and now resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His latest book is "Finding the Target: The Transformation of the American Military." This summer, he briefed President Bush at Camp David about what to do in Iraq.

    And what's your best recommendation for achieving success in Iraq from hereon out?

  • FREDERICK KAGAN, American Enterprise Institute:

    The number-one priority in Iraq today is establishing security, primarily in Baghdad. Without security, there simply is no possibly that we're going to be able to get the problem of the Shia militias under control or get the political process moving forward.

    It's simply too much to ask people in a situation where they have to wake up every day and worry about whether they and their families are going to survive the day to make the sorts of hard political decisions that we are asking them to make these days.

    And we have right now really laid down a marker in Baghdad. We've said that the war is going to be won or lost in Baghdad, and that means that the number-one priority has to be making sure that we bring peace to the capital.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Well, establishing security has been a stated goal of this administration since the fall of Baghdad. What would do you to change the operational reality as it is on the ground there today?

  • FREDERICK KAGAN:

    Actually, establishing security really hasn't been the goal of the administration or of the military. Our primary goal has been training up Iraqi security forces so that we could turn the task over to them.

    Secondarily, we've been chasing terrorists around and going after certain limited insurgent enclaves when they may have posed major problems. But we have never actually set about – trying to establish and maintain security throughout the country. And that, I think, has been the principal failure of our military strategy in Iraq.

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