Tentative Details on 'The Surge'

The AP has a preview of tonight's upcoming escalation speech:

Ahead of the speech, Bush and senior officials briefed journalists Wednesday morning — among them "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams, who described the president as "energized" but also recognizing that he faces a tough job in convincing Americans that his strategy is vital to the stability of the entire Middle East.

A breakdown of the additional troops was provided by a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the increase has not been officially announced:
  • Bush is committing 4,000 more Marines to Anbar Province.
  • He is committing 17,500 U.S. combat troops to Baghdad, equivalent to five combat brigades. The first brigade will arrive by next Monday. The next brigade is to arrive by Feb. 15. The reminder will arrive there in 30-day increments.
  • The Iraqis are committing three brigades for Baghdad, the first to be delivered on Feb. 1. Two more will arrive on Feb. 15th.
So those are the facts. Other parts of the AP story give us clues about the narrative that Bush will use to try to sell this unpopular proposal to a skeptical nation:
President Bush will tell the nation Wednesday night he will send more than 21,500 additional American forces to Iraq, acknowledging that it was a mistake earlier not to have more American and Iraqi troops fighting the war.

Seeking support for a retooled strategy to win support for the unpopular war, the president will acknowledge that the rules of engagement were flawed because certain neighborhoods in Baghdad were put off limits by the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, White House counselor Dan Bartlett said. “Military operations sometimes were handcuffed by political interference by the Iraqi leadership,” he said.
So there you have it.

'Things haven't gone exactly as planned in Iraq - but it wasn't our fault. The Iraqi leadership kept meddling in our business and screwed a bunch of stuff up. We'll fix it, but it'll take 21,500 American troops and 6.8 billion dollars.'

Notably absent was the 'six month deployment' that has quietly dropped out of the Bush Administration's discussions of the not-so-secret plan to 'surge' the way to victory. If the President mentions any time frames at all tonight, I expect that it will be closer to 18 months than six.

Remember, Bush has promised that there would be U.S. Troops in Iraq as long as he's president.

A (world-wide) PR 'surge' will begin sooner than the actual 'surge' itself, starting with an appearance in front of Bush's favorite audience - people in uniform that can be ordered to applaud - in this case at Fort Benning, Ga.

The speech itself is tonight in prime-time. Let's see if Dubya can summon up enough communication skills to sell this one...

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