Troop Surge Already Under Way
President Bush has already started the “surge” that he is announcing tonight, ABC News reports.
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.