– General Casey requested the increase in forces that people have called "the surge" and for which Petraeus is generally thought to be responsible. Bush announced the increase in forces in January, 2007. Petraeus assumed command in February, 2007
– Petraeus did not try to claim that the tribal revolt in Anbar, now spreading in the country wherever Sunni Arabs live in numbers, was the result of his policy. His COIN adviser David Killcullen recently wrote that the tribal revolt was not anticipated by the US command in Baghdad, was not caused by it and was a "surprise." What Petraeus did claim, fairly I think, is that he and his team have perceived the usefulness of this phenomenon and are helping to spread it wherever they can while at the same time trying to integrate these forces into government structures. Petraeus also maintained that the US is not arming the tribes because there is no need to arm the tribes. What is happening is that US forces are now welcoming those who wish to change sides in defense of their "turf" and way of life.
– If Casey requested the additional troops and the tribal revolt was caused by factors beyond his control, then what is left as Petraeus creative contribution is his campaign to protect the population of the Baghdad area by garrisoning the city with a myriad of little forts. That, in itself, may be enough to justify his reputation. To be fair, he seems to be an excellnt strategic thinker, and the man can really speak English. (unusual)
– Rep. Duncan Hunter suggested that the former Iraqi Army could not have been used for anything under a new government. Petraeus did not accept that and reiterated the idea that a shortage of well trained and experienced officers at field grade level remains one of the new army’s biggest problem, and that the Maliki government is trying to induce the return to the colors of suitable "old Army." officers.
-Petraeus insisted that he and Admiral Fallon, his immediate commander, have no disagreements concerning policy in Iraq.
-Petraeus insisted that his testimony had not been "vetted" by the Bush Administration.
-Petraeus said that Iranian "Quds" force cadres and Hizbullah trainers "borrowed" by Iran have left Iraq.
-Most importantly, Petraeus said that he has recommended, through Fallon to Gates, that all of the "surge" troops be withdrawn gradually between now and July, 2008 with a further review in March, 2008 of how to continue the withdrawal after July. Some will say that this is deceptive because these troop will have to be withdrawn anyway. I think not. He could easily have conditioned the withdrawal in many ways, but there was little of that.
– He showed little taste for negotiating with the Iranians. Crocker has always liked to talk tough about negotiating with anyone. He seems to fear the "diplomatie au petit fours" image. Perhaps that is why Petraeus mentioned the Quds Force withdrawal.
All in all, an encouraging performance in a limited sort of way. Now, if we knew what the commander guy and ole Dick intend to do about Iran, we would really know something. pl