Time lines out of sync in Iraq
U.S. Marines fighting in the deserts of western Iraq have a greater need for extra time than extra Marines, the commandant of the Marine Corps said here Tuesday.The Marines have been making slow progress in Anbar. I think additional forces would speed that progress. With the tension between the time needed and the political time available, things need to be done to both speed the process and extend the time.
"I fear there are two timelines out there," Gen. James T. Conway told an audience of about 2,500 troops gathered in a base chapel. "One is how long it's going to take us to do the job. One is how long the country is going to allow us to do the job. And they're not syncing up."
Americans should be willing to give the military more time, he said, telling the assembled Marines, sailors and soldiers that "I think if people stop and consider that premature removal could have a disastrous effect and cause us to have to return, I think they would work with us."
Conway, 58, who was commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force during the assault on Baghdad in 2003 and the battle with insurgents in Fallouja in April 2004, also said in the interview that based on discussions with Marine field commanders, he did not see a need for a temporary surge of additional Marines into Al Anbar.
"I'm probably more optimistic about Al Anbar than I have been in a long time," he said. "I think we're very near a tipping point." He added, "I'm very encouraged we will see a twist on this thing in the springtime."
He said he was bolstered by comments by Bush at a meeting with top-level military commanders two weeks ago. Bush told them, "What I want to hear from you is how we're going to win, not how we're going to leave," Conway said.