For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 31, 2007
The Rest of the Story: Sec. Baker Outlines "Common Elements" In The Iraq Study Group's Report And The President's New Strategy
In Focus: Iraq
Setting the Record Straight
"The President's plan makes clear that U.S. forces will be sent to Baghdad to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods. That means combat operations, including possibly door-to-door sweeps. The Study Group made the assessment that the security of Baghdad is crucial to security in Iraq more generally and while we were in Baghdad at the end of the summer, Iraqi and American leaders told us that as Baghdad goes, so goes Iraq.
The Study Group
did state that it could support a short-term redeployment or surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad or to speed up the training and equipping mission, if the United States commander in Iraq [said] that such steps would be effective."
Iraq Study Group Co-Chair James A. Baker, III, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony, 1/30/07
According To Reports On Yesterday's Testimony By The Iraq Study Group Co-Chairmen: "
[T]he leaders of the Iraq Study Group
disputed the White House's contention that most of their recommendations had been incorporated into Mr. Bush's troop increase plan."
But Secretary Baker Discussed Agreement On Additional Troops To Secure Baghdad
- Sec. Baker: "Both Of" The Iraq Study Group's "Conditions" For Additional Troops To Secure Baghdad "Have Been Met." "And let me, if I might, Mr. Chairman, read from the report with respect to this issue of the surge, because there are only two conditions upon our support for a surge. One is that it be short-term and the other is that it be called for by the commander in Iraq. President Bush said this is not an open-ended commitment. Secretary Gates said this is a temporary surge and, of course, General Petraeus is the guy that's to carry it out and he was the person that originally recommended it. This is the language and all of the language of the report with respect to a surge: 'We could, however, support a short-term redeployment or surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad or to speed up the training and equipping mission, if the U.S. commander in Iraq determines that such steps would be effective.' The only two conditions are 'short-term' [and] 'commander in Iraq determines it would be effective.' Both of those conditions have been met
" (Committee On Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 1/30/07)
Secretary Baker Discussed Agreement On Rejecting An Immediate Withdrawal
- Sec. Baker: "We Rejected An Immediate Withdrawal." "
[T]he Study Group set no timetables and we set no deadlines. We believe that military commanders must have the flexibility to respond to events on the ground." (Committee On Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 1/30/07)
Secretary Baker Discussed Agreement On Securing Iraq
- Sec. Baker: "There Are Some Very Important Points Of Similarity Between The Study Group's Report And The President's Plan For Security." "Both of them keep rapid reaction and special operations force available to undertake force protection and strike missions against Al Qaeda in Iraq, as well as for other missions considered vital by the United States commander in Iraq. Both increase the number of U.S. personnel embedded with Iraqi army units and both emphasize the mission of training Iraqi troops. The president said, and I quote, 'We will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq.' To accomplish that goal, the president intends to double the number of advisers that are embedded with Iraqi army units. The Study Group report stated, 'The primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq should evolve to one of supporting the Iraqi army, which would take over primary responsibility for combat operations.' The Study Group suggested that such a mission could involve 10,000 to 20,000 American troops." (Committee On Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 1/30/07)
Secretary Baker Discussed Agreement On The Importance Of National Reconciliation In Iraq
- Sec. Baker: "The Study Group, The President, And Prime Minister Maliki Agree On Key Measures The Iraqis Need To Take." "Those measures include: legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis; provincial elections later this year; reform of the de-Baathification laws; and a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's Constitution." (Committee On Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 1/30/07)
- "We Commend The President's Statement In Which He Made Clear To The Prime Minister And Iraq's Other Leaders That America's Commitment Is Not Open-Ended." "If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. No security plan can work, however, in the absence of national reconciliation. The Study Group report stated that the United States forces cannot stop the violence or even contain it if there is no underlying political agreement among Iraqis about the future of their country." (Committee On Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 1/30/07)
Secretary Baker Discussed Agreement On The Consequences Of Failure In Iraq
- Sec. Baker: "We Agree
That The Consequences Of Failure Would Be Severe." "We'd like to begin, I think, by noting some common elements in the Study Group report and the President's speech of January 10. For example, we agree with President Bush that the situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people, that the consequences of failure would be severe, that it is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq, and that only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. We support increasing the number of American advisers embedded in the Iraqi army, with the goal that the Iraqi government will assume control of security in all provinces in Iraq by November 2007, as the President stated. We support the benchmarks President Bush outlined for Iraq and we agree that now is the time for the Iraqi government to act." (Committee On Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 1/30/07)
# # #