This chapter examines debates over US policy in the summer of 2006, focusing particularly on the unhappy results of military efforts to tamp down violence in Baghdad. Two major military operations—Operations Together Forward I and II—were launched, intended, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Peter Pace, recalled, to “begin the process of turning over the battlefield responsibilities to the Iraqi armed forces.” Both were clear disappointments, however, revealing how unprepared Iraqi forces were to assume responsibility for their country's security. Iraqi forces themselves were, in the words of the National Security Council's Meghan O'Sullivan, “perpetuating acts of sectarian violence” and were “as much part of the problem as they are a solution to the problem.” Throughout the summer, NSC staff thus sought to press the Iraq country team for a review of Iraq strategy, and pushed the president to ask General George Casey, commander of Multi-National Force Iraq (MNF-I), harder questions about where the current approach was leading. However, MNF-I and the US Embassy in Iraq continued to champion existing plans, believing that the existing strategy merely required more time.
Keywords: US policy, military operations, Baghdad, Operation Together Forward, Iraqi armed forces, National Security Council, sectarian violence, Iraq strategy, General George Casey, Multi-National Force Iraq
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