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Our Strategy in Iraq: What Has Changed? Can We Succeed?

Tuesday April 2007


General Jack Keane (Ret.) Former Vice Chief of Staff, United States Army

For nearly four years, the Coalition's military strategy in Iraq has focused on helping the Iraqis develop the capability to fight the insurgency so that Coalition forces could withdraw. President Bush defined this approach in his public comments: "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."

What the Coalition discovered was that it could clear insurgent areas well, but it had difficulty holding and building in those areas afterwards. This failure to secure the civil population in critical sectors resulted in increased sectarian violence. Recognizing that this strategy was not producing the desired results, the president turned to experts such as General Keane and Dr. Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, who worked together on a report outlining a different approach. The report, "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq," provides the blueprint for the new strategy the president announced in January.

General Keane spent 37 years serving as an Army officer. Commissioned as an infantryman, he went on to command at every level, from platoon to corps. He ended his career serving as the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, that service's second highest ranking officer. He recently returned from a trip to Iraq where he has been advising General Petraeus and Lieutenant General Odierno, who currently command our forces there.