The Baghdad surge plan, announced by the president on Jan. 10, calls for the new U.S. soldiers to be embedded with Iraqi forces, who will take the lead. But while the U.S. troops would report to American officers, their Iraqi counterparts, in an apparent sop to national sovereignty, would report to Iraqi officers. The potentially disastrous result: two separate and independent command structures within the same military operation.
"I know of no successful military operation where you have dual command," McCain told Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last Tuesday. Petraeus, heralded by the Bush White House as the man who would make the surge work, signaled his agreement, telling McCain, "Sir, I share your concern."
These days, Kagan, in particular, has been careful to differentiate the AEI plan from what Bush actually proposed. The AEI blueprint advocated that American and Iraqi forces should work together -- with the more competent Americans in the lead and in control. The units would operate "within a single command structure," Kagan's written plan for a surge states. "Unity of effort is essential for success in this kind of endeavor." Small wonder that Kagan said about Bush's ideas in an interview, "This is not our plan. The White House is not briefing our plan."Fred BarnesIsaac Chotiner