It won't be quick or easy. But, surprisingly, there are at least some ideas
The Democratic leadership's embrace of political negotiations and more active diplomacy makes it even more likely that these elements will be part of the Iraq Study Group recommendations. Another element likely to appear in the report is a call for the U.S. military mission to transition from one focused on combat to one focused on advising Iraqi forces and counterterrorism. In another sign of growing consensus on this point, a similar recommendation may be forthcoming from the reviews of military strategy now underway at the Pentagon, at the Central Command, and in Iraq.
The security compromise. Abizaid testified that the military is currently looking at ways to make the U.S. military advisers embedded with Iraqi forces the focus of the strategy. There are about 4,000 U.S. advisers in 10-to-15-man teams. Currently, there are 139 such American teams working with the Iraqi Army and 14 others staffed by coalition forces, as well as teams embedded with Iraqi police and border guards. In addition, there are special operations forces serving as combat advisers to scout platoons in about one third of the Iraqi Army.
A senior U.S. military official told U.S. News that two ways are being considered to expand the advisory effort. More advisers and supporting teams can be drawn from the existing combat brigades now in Iraq, and additional advisers can be trained and brought in from the United States. No decision has yet been reached on how large the increase will be, the official said, but it could be double the present number. He also pointed out that in some parts of Iraq, advisers already get help from the U.S. combat brigade assigned to the area, such as in Mosul, where a Training Combat Advisory Team backed up the embedded Military Transition Team. That formula may be expanded nationwide. Making the teams more "robust" also means giving them more vehicles and weapons so they can move around and protect themselves once U.S. combat brigades are withdrawn. Additional interpreters and training are also needed to make advisers more effective; the latter will include revamping the counterinsurgency courses at Taji and stateside.
Finally, plans are already being drawn up to shift more responsibility and control to the Iraqi forces. A high-level U.S.-Iraqi committee is currently negotiating the terms for a faster turnover of authority, bases, and provinces to Iraqi control. The committee is also discussing ways of making the Iraqi forces more mobile by leaving behind U.S. up-armored humvees as units withdraw and improving their heavy weaponry via foreign military sales purchases. General Abizaid suggested that this turnover package could be tied to an accord on militia demobilization and amnesty as an additional incentive.
If the expanded advisers do boost the capacity of the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqis prove able to manage a faster turnover, that can open the way for an earlier drawdown of some U.S. troops than previously envisioned-possibly in less than 12 months, according to Abizaid. Flournoy, who served in the Clinton administration's Pentagon, believes that this plan might win the support of the Democratic leaders, who she says are not rigidly insisting on a fixed redeployment or withdrawal calendar. "What they really want is not a date certain so much as a sign that this is not a perpetually open-ended commitment."