Hunter’s plan

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

Rep. Dun­can Hunter, the cur­rent chair­man of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, is urg­ing top ad­min­is­tra­tion and mil­i­tary of­fi­cials to shift Iraqi forces from peace­ful ar­eas of Iraq into the heavy com­bat ar­eas be­fore mak­ing any de­ci­sions about Amer­i­can troops.

The Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can and 2008 pres­i­den­tial hope­ful said there are 27 Iraqi bat­tal­ions now guard­ing over­whelm­ingly peace­ful ar­eas and most or all of them should be moved into more com­bat­ive ar­eas where daily fight­ing oc­curs, such as Bagh­dad.

“There’snore­a­son­not­top­ut­them into op­er­a­tion,” he said. “We can movethoseIraqi­forcesin­tothe­fight.”

He said do­ing so would ma­ture the Iraqi troops as fight­ers, test the qual­ity of the Iraqi mil­i­tary lead­er­ship and ac­cel­er­ate the goal of fully turn­ing Iraq over to the Iraqis and re­mov­ing Amer­i­can troops.

Mr. Hunter sent a let­ter to Pres­i­dent Bush about the topic back in Oc­to­ber. He said he’s re­quest­ing a fol­low-up meet­ing with Mr. Bush and pos­si­bly the vice pres­i­dent to dis­cuss­thei­dea,andhe’ssend­ing­fol­low-up let­ters to oth­ers as well, in­clud­ingRobertM.Gates,nom­i­nated to be the next de­fense sec­re­tary.

Mr. Hunter said he’s push­ing his idea so force­fully be­cause he an­tic­i­pates a new Pen­tagon plan rec­om­mend­ing ei­ther with­draw­ing from Iraq or en­larg­ing U.S. forces there, with a mid­dle ground of stay­ing for a long time.

“I have an al­ter­na­tive to that, and it’s called ‘Go Iraqi,’ ” he said.

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