ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 24

US military chief signals changes in Iraq policy

U.S. President George W. Bush wipes a tear from his eye after speaking at the dedication of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia on Friday. At the ceremony Bush announced that U.S. Marine Corporal Jason Dunham will receive posthumously the Congressional Medal of Honour for diving on a hand grenade which exploded and killed him in Iraq in April 2004. Reuters

WASHINGTON, Saturday (AFP) -US military leaders are making their own reassessment of the course in Iraq, the top US military officer said, signaling major changes ahead with Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's departure.

“We should not expect to go with a plan that's chipped in stone and stay with that plan no matter what,” General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday. Key questions facing any new regime at the Pentagon will be whether to surge more US troops into the country to smother sectarian violence, and whether to move more aggressively against Shiite militias at the source of much of the bloodshed.

Last week, before his abrupt resignation, Rumsfeld and his generals opted to avoid a confrontation over the militias with Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in favour of a more rapid transition of the US-trained Iraqi military to government control.

Pace, in a series of television interviews and in comments to reporters, gave no hint of what the military brass will recommend to Rumsfeld's designated replacement, former CIA chief Robert Gates.
But he said he and the two top commanders responsible for the war in Iraq — General John Abizaid and General George Casey — were each taking a hard look at what the military is doing in Iraq.

“We need to give ourselves a good, honest scrub about what is working, what is not working, what are the impediments to progress, and what should we change about the way we're doing it, to ensure that we get to the objective that we have set for ourselves,” Pace said in an interview with CBS television.
“We're making our recommendations. We're having our dialogue. And we'll make the changes that are needed to get ourselves more focused on the correct objectives,” he said.

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