Rotate Iraqi Troops Through Baghdad

American troops in Baghdad, alongside Iraqi forces, have been engaged in a fierce battle with insurgents over the past several days.

The United States, with the support of Iraqi leaders, has developed a plan to stabilize Baghdad and the al-Anbar Province. The President has told Congress that he intends to move an additional six brigades to Iraq for this operation.

My own recommendation to President Bush has been to move the 27 Iraqi battalions presently in quiet areas of the country into Baghdad. Further, I have recommended that U.S. troops move to “leverage” their positions, emphasizing advisory teams, intelligence, precision strikes and special operations; and that Iraqi forces take the lead in the proposed Baghdad sweeps.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, has told me that part of my recommendation is being implemented in that nine Iraqi battalions from peaceful areas are being moved to Baghdad for this operation. Against this backdrop, the Democrats have announced that they will resist any reinforcements being sent into the battle zone. I will strongly oppose any such Democratic effort to cut off troop reinforcements or re-supply efforts into the Iraq theater.

We are a nation at war. To fracture the U.S. government at this critical time will demoralize our troops and allies, and embolden our enemies. I support the commander in chief in this operation.

I will continue to push for the acceleration of the military transition to Iraqis. This can be accomplished by rotating every Iraqi battalion through a combat tour.

The operation will start with a U.S. battalion stationed with each operational Iraqi brigade in Baghdad. I will recommend to the President, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus that these U.S. embedded battalions be replaced with Iraqi battalions over the coming months, until Baghdad is exclusively occupied by Iraqi forces.