Sunday, December 31, 2006

P-81 U.S. plans for Iraq shift as deaths reach 3,000

U.S. plans shift as deaths reach 3,000

BAGHDAD, Iraq - With U.S. deaths at the 3,000 mark, the U.S. military is accelerating plans to turn its main mission in Iraq from fighting insurgents to training Iraqi forces and hunting al-Qaida terrorists. Thousands more U.S. advisers would work inside of Iraqi units to improve their skills, which in most units still fall short of what is needed to bring down the country's violence.

President Bush is also considering the "surge" option — increasing temporarily the number of U.S. combat troops from its current 134,000 by 25,000 or more in hopes of securing the capital Baghdad to boost chances for political reconciliation.

But even without that boost, the role of the embedded advisers will take on new importance in the coming months as the U.S. struggles to hand over security duties to Iraq, bring down American casualties — and pave the way for an eventual withdrawal.

The new initiative is the latest and most ambitious of several attempts to improve the effectiveness of Iraqi units, which so far have fallen short of expectations.


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