Troop Surge Already Under Way

President Bush has already started the “surge” that he is announcing tonight, ABC News reports.

Breaking News Surge Underway

President Bush’s speech may be scheduled for tonight, but the troop surge in Iraq is already under way. ABC News has learned that the “surge” Bush is expected to announce in a prime time speech tonight has already begun. Ninety advance troops from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Baghdad Wednesday. An additional battalion of roughly 800 troops from the same division are expected to arrive in Baghdad Thursday. Eighty percent of the sectarian violence occurs within a 30-mile radius of Baghdad, so that is where most of the additional troops will be concentrated.

It is the first small wave of troops in a new White House strategy that is expected to put more than 20,000 additional U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and likely require new call-ups of the National Guard.

The president is expected to deliver his announcement about the troop increase, a plan that has already met with stiff criticism from many members of Congress, in a speech tonight from the White House.

The arrival of additional forces in Iraq comes a day after leading Democrats said they would back legislation that would block funding to pay for additional military forces. A spokeswoman for Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who, Tuesday, urgently called for Congress to vote on — and reject — the proposed surge, told ABC News that the arrival of additional soldiers “underscores Sen. Kennedy’s point that Congress must act immediately.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-N.M., also responded to the report, calling the troops’ arrival “deeply disappointing.”

It’s certainly the president’s prerogative, as commander-in-chief, to send troops as he sees fit to an ongoing conflict, especially one already authorized by Congress. That said, presenting it as a fait accompli will lessen the chance of building public support, let alone bipartisan consensus with the legislature.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Iraq War, Military Affairs, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. I thought the president needed congressional approval to deploy troops for more than 90 days? Or is the approval he needs an all or nothing sort of thing?

  2. vnjagvet says:

    The problem is that time is awasting, James. A decision has apparently been made that it is more important to get some immediate sustainable results on the ground than it is to get political cover.

    This makes some sense to me because there is really nothing that Congress can practically do to slow this down or to stop it.

    Watching Dick Durban essentially call for withdrawal shows the paucity of the possible alternatives that Congress offers.

  3. anjin-san says:

    “I said to Maliki this has to work or you’re out,” the president told the Congressional leaders…

    So much for democracy in Iraq.

  4. just me says:

    I don’t know that this was a bad move.

    If it needs doing now, waiting for congressional debate isn’t going to get it done soon enough.

    Also, congressional democrats have all come out opposing the plan-what consensus is there to reach?

  5. LJD says:

    I have made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq’s other leaders that America’s commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people — and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: “The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation.”

    I think that was the quote Anjin was looking for…
    meanwhile back on the subject…
    82nd Airborne is well trained and highly motivated. I almost feel sorry for those terrorist SOBs in Baghdad.

  6. Wayne says:

    Stormy

    The President can deploy troops wherever he wants. The Congress controls the purse string. The President if he deems it necessary, can conduct military operations for 90 days before he has to get an official declaration of war from Congress. However in this case, war has already been declare.