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General Petraeus Says Surge Is Working

Reported by Ellen - August 7, 2007 -

General Petraeus made it pretty clear tonight that he'll be telling Congress in September that the surge is working. During an excellent interview with Alan Colmes on his radio show, Petraeus said flat out that the surge is working, albeit with the acknowledgment that "there are innumberable challenges and, obviously, an enormous amount of hard work remains to be done." UPDATED.

Colmes asked, "General, is the surge working?"

Petraeus answered, "It is. We are making progress. We have achieved tactical momentum in many areas, especially against Al Qaeda Iraq and to a lesser degree against the militia extremists. We are also heartened by the number of Iraqi tribes and local citizens who have rejected Al Qaeda. We cannot attribute that to the surge but the surge certainly enabled that to move much more rapidly, we believe, than it otherwise would have. Now, having said that, there are innumerable challenges and, obviously, an enormous amount of hard work remains to be done."

Colmes, noting that the surge is sometimes called "the Petraeus doctrine," said, "It would be unlikely for you to report that your own strategy isn't working, right?"

Petraeus paused and fumbled a bit as he answered, "Well, I have vowed that I would provide a forthright and comprehensive assessment and I'm not gonna pull punches. And I have all along reported setbacks as well as successes... and it will not be an unblemished report."

So it's pretty clear what kind of a report it will be. And unless the Democrats suddenly develop a lot of so-far-undetected gumption, I think it's safe to say there's no end in sight to this war.

Colmes asked, "Do you anticipate the same level of troops after the fall?"

Petraeus answered that the Army and Marine Corps cannot maintain the surge level for an extended period but also said, he needed "a bit more time" to figure out "the battlefield geometry."

Petraeus insisted that the training of Iraqi forces is going well. "Some of these Iraqi forces went off the rails during the height of the sectarian violence and some of that started to appear in the late 2005 period and it went through 2006... They are uneven in quality but there are dozens and dozens of very good units out there and their high end units are truly very fine elements... truly legitimate high end forces that rank with the best of the special forces in this region."

Colmes asked a number of tough questions, including about the 190,000 missing weapons uncovered in a GAO report last week. Petraeus explained how it happened, basically ascribing it to a clerical error, as The Washington Post reports. But the Post did not cover part of Colmes' follow up question and Petraeus' incomplete answer.

Colmes: Are you saying you have a sense of where those 190,000 weapons are? Or is there a good chance that some of them fell into the hands of the insurgency? And how do you prevent this from happening again?

Petraeus: Well, we did in fact take measures, Alan... (We) created first our own logistical structures... we gradually started putting those procedures into place, got them really established, I'd say, in the summer of 2005 and then built from there...Over time those procedures were put in place and I think the GAO acknowledges that and notes that fact."

Colmes: How many of those weapons do you think could be in the hands of our enemies?

Petraeus: I don't know.

The interview was broken into two parts, one aired tonight, one tomorrow. But you can hear the complete, unbroken interview via podcast (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

I only wished Colmes had asked Petraeus if he thinks that Democrats are undermining the troops. Presumably, Petraeus would have said no and how would Hannity counter THAT?