Allow me to parse
Bush: Iraqi forces will take more control in 2006
"In January 2006, the mission is to continue to hand over more and more territory and more and more responsibility to Iraqi forces," said Bush
Define "responsibility". Does "handing over territory" mean, as it seems to mean, the US forces retreating to "safe" areas while leaving more and more of Iraq to lawlessness, chaos, anarchy, Shiite theocracy, whatever? Isn't this reminiscent of the Marines retreating to their "safe" firebases in Vietnam?
"Today, 125 combat battalions are fighting the enemy, and 50 of those are in the lead," he said. "That's progress."
What is the size of an Iraqi battalion? Ten men? Twenty men? A thousand men? Is the size of the individual battalions being lowered to make the number seem bigger? Define "in the lead". Are these battalions operationg wholly on their own? How many of them are reliable, and will not turn their guns on the Iraqi government at the first opportunity? How many of them won't turn their guns on US troops at the first opportunity, for that matter?
He added, "As we see more of these Iraqi forces in the lead, we will be able to continue with our stated strategy that says as Iraqi forces stand up, we will stand down."
As, I have pointed out, compared to:
...This statement, reflecting a decision of the National Security Council, said the program for training Vietnamese troops should have progressed by the end of the year to the point "where one thousand United States military personnel" could be withdrawn.
-The New York Times, November 25th, 1963
And with the comment the other day from JCS Cahirman General Pace that " you could see troop level go up a little bit" if the insurgency continues (pretty much a given, it appears), this is essentially meaningless. This isn't a commitment, this isn't a promise, it's happy-face propaganda.
Bush noted that U.S. commanders have recently determined that combat forces in Iraq can be reduced from 17 brigades to 15 brigades, and that U.S. troop strength can drop by 7,000 below the baseline level of 138,000.
Well, that'd be all wonderful and stuff, but the additional two brigades were only there for the elections, and were going to be brought back anyway. It's merely making something that was going to happen anyway sound like progress.
Bush described as "troubling" and "unacceptable" recent reports that some Iraqi police units were mistreating prisoners, and said "adjustments" would be made in training to stop such abuses.
Among those adjustments will be the embedding of coalition forces with Iraqi special police units, he said.
Yeah, it's "troubling" to find out they're following the example of abuse and torture that you've set, sure. Of course, that means any further evidence of torture in Iraq will be blamed on "rogue Iraqi police" instead of "rouge US troops". More "bad apples". And if "coalition forces" are going to be embedded in Iraqi police units, how is this not continuing to put Americans or Brits in harm's way - since they're really the only "coalition forces" available?
The discovery of an Iraqi government facility in November where some inmates showed signs of torture caused an outcry, but Iraqi officials defended the actions, with the interior minister noting "Nobody was beheaded or killed."
"Nobody was beheaded or killed". That's a pretty damn low bar for morality, if you ask me. Of course, again, they're just following the example of the people who have re-defined "torture" as "whatever we don't do", thus allowing torture while claiming innocence.
All in all, hardly an inspiring presentation.