"Reached by telephone in Baghdad, coalition spokesman Colonel Steve Boylan told VOA he expects the lengthy, classified document - five months in the making and several centimeters thick - will be finalized this week. He says it sets goals for establishing security that include progress in military, political and economic efforts, but he says troop levels will be determined later, after officials see how their plan is going.
"It doesn't really address troop levels or troop strength," said Colonel Boylan. "This is more conditions-based type of document, type of planning. This is the strategic, big picture kind of planning that has to take place to give everyone else the direction they need to continue forward."" VOA
Too much should not be made of this document. "Campaign plan" is a term of art within the US military for a document that "lays out" what the senior commander in a theater of war intends to do over some extended period of time in order to accomplish the task that has been given him by the National Command Authority (NCA). In this case Ambassador Crocker has been included in the planning process in order to get all US efforts in Iraq to function together rather than at cross purposes. You can be sure that the CIA was consulted as well. The plan does not require NCA approval because it is an implementing document rather than a proposal for something new. It is a good thing that Petraeus is seeking to clarify for all what he is trying to do.
Like any plan this one is built to operate in a planning universe created by the assumptions on which the plan is based. These assumptions are usually listed at the beginning of the plan so that everyone realizes that if these assumptions about the future do not "hold up" then the plan is no good and must be abandoned or modified.
This plan assumes that the Kagan/Keane plan "surge" has provided additional combat troops who have "turned the tide" in offensive operations in Anbar and Diyala governorates and that as a result of that "turn," increasing numbers of former secular or tribal insurgents are "rallying" to the Baghdad government's cause and fighting the foreign jihadis that President Bush keeps talking about. It is arguable that the people now "rallying" were increasingly outraged by the fanatic and dictatorial behavior of the jihadis and were looking for temporary allies against the jihadis. A change in American policy towards such "ralliers" occurred last year and perhaps it was that change in policy that provided the "space" into which the "rallying" is happening. If that is true, then the increased American troop presence is less important than is thought in Baghdad and Washington in official circles. Nevertheless, it seems likely that the "campaign plan" will lead to efforts to expand offensive US combat operations into more and more governorates. This will require the retention of the present force levels in Iraq and will inevitably lead to a desire to increase troop levels yet higher as I have written elsewhere.
The plan also assumes that the Maliki government will begin to make compromises over power sharing with Sunni Arab groups and that it will be possible to create a real community of interest between the central government and many small localities. I think that is unlikely. The problem between these two communities is over a thousand years old and is basic to their world views. Accommodation between them will not be reached by urging the Shia to give up power to their former overlords. It is more likely to prove to be that case that the non-jihadi locals are willing to reach accommodation with the Americans.
What the "campaign plan" intends to do about the Shia militia and Iran dominated south of Iraq is unclear. The British are gradually leaving the area. Something like the elves leaving Middle Earth? The Baghdad government's writ does not run down there, or, if it does, then it runs the way the Ottoman Sultan's writ ran in Tunis or Algiers. What does Petraeus intend to do about that?
I suppose that Petraeus does not have much "say" in the matter of the "negotiations" with the Iranians. In those talks it appears that we have adopted the traditional Middle Eastern approach to negotiations. In that methodology the stronger party states its required outcome at the outset and then a continuation indicates that the weaker party accepts that outcome and the rest is details. We have stated our desired outcome and the Iranians have rejected our assertions about their guilt in Iraq, but they want to continue talking. This means that the two groups will talk until one side accepts the other's "end state." pl