Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hugh Interviews General Petraeus

Transcript of Hugh's interview at the link above, read the whole thing. Two items I think worth noting, the first being the number of special ops going on :

HH: Some of the arguments about Iraq in the United States argue that it’s possible for American troops to withdraw to their bases and just strike at al Qaeda, sort of an Anbar only option, I guess. Does that make any sense to you at all, General Petraeus?

DP: Well, first of all, al Qaeda-Iraq is throughout pretty substantial parts of Iraq, and it is a significant enough network in capability that it is not going to be dealt with just by certainly, if you will, classical counterterrorist operations. Indeed, we are doing those. Our best operators in America and in the world are here in the largest number of anywhere in the world by several multiples, and conducting a very, very high operational tempo, and doing extraordinary operations. When I think back to the operations that we did, for example, going after war criminals in Bosnia, or something like that, you know, and one of those would be a big deal, and you’d dine off that for the next several months. On a nightly basis here, you know, ten or twelve serious operations are going down by those forces.

HH: Wow.

DP: And any one of those is far more significant than we conducted for decades. They are very sophisticated, very complex, very lethal sometimes, and very effective. Having said that, although they may be the most important operations, because they can take down, as they did the senior Iraqi leader in al Qaeda-Iraq, or kill the three al Turkey brothers, or what have you, it is also the weight of the operations conducted by the, if you will, the regular special forces, the Green Berets and the others that make up the special operations task force, and operate throughout the country as a very high operational tempo, and of our conventional forces.....

Also, regarding the home front -

HH: It sounds optimistic, General. I want to respect your time and close with just a couple of questions, one that Senator Webb this past weekend rightly denounced politicians who try and put words into the mouths of troops. So I’m going to ask you. What do you hear your men and women saying about this mission? Do they think it can be won?

DP: Well, I think they do. I mean, I think…nobody…look, everybody wants to go home. I mean, nobody was cheering when we extended from 12 to 15 months, and I wasn’t, either, you know? This is my fourth year of longer deployment since 2001. My family would love to have me back home, and I’d love to be there. But we want to go back the right way, if you will, so that although every soldier’s first right is to, you know, grouse a bit, and we all exercise that on occasion, I think everybody’s very determined to try to do the very best that we can to accomplish this mission. I was privileged on the 4th of July to swear the oath with some 588 soldiers in one huge formation here at Camp Victory, who reenlisted for another tour in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and so forth. And it was extraordinary. And I can tell you, you know, it’s not because of the bonus or anything like that. There is no bonus that can compensate for the sacrifices and the hardship in the selfless service that our soldiers are providing here. So again, I think individuals are doing all that they can to try to achieve success in this mission here, and that’s the focus of the folks with whom I’m privileged to soldier.

HH: Last question, General. How can the American public support these troops most effectively?

DP: Well, I think the American public has been doing that. I think actually, regardless of the views on Iraq, the American public has supported our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and the civilians that are deployed over here. And I think that that is wonderful. We all saw, some of us, you know, as we were growing up, a situation where that was not the case. And happily in this case, as I said, regardless of one’s views, regardless on where one comes down on the issue of Iraq, there is backing for those great young men and women who are putting everything on the line here on a daily basis, in right now, 125 degree heat and body armor and Kevlar, against a barbaric enemy, in an exceedingly tough and complex situation. I think I mentioned to you before that when Tom Brokaw was out here with us one time, he said that surely this has to be the new greatest generation. And I very, very much agree with that. And as I mentioned earlier, I feel very privileged to be able to soldier with these great young men and women here in Iraq again.

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