One of our favorite war correspondents provides a detailed background on the origins of "The Surge" - Troop 'Surge' Took Place Amid Doubt and Debate by Michael Gordon, New York Times.
When President Bush speaks to the Republican convention on Monday, he is expected to tout the "surge" of forces in Iraq as one of his proudest achievements. But that decision, one of his most consequential as commander in chief, was made only after months of tumultuous debate within the administration, according to still-secret memorandums and interviews with a broad range of current and former officials.
In January 2007, at a time when the situation in Iraq appeared the bleakest, Mr. Bush chose a bold option that was at odds with what many of his civilian and military advisers, including his field commander, initially recommended. Mr. Bush's plan to send more than 20,000 troops to carry out a new counterinsurgency strategy has helped to reverse the spiral of sectarian killings in Iraq.
But Mr. Bush's penchant to defer to commanders in the field and to a powerful defense secretary delayed the development of a new approach until conditions in Iraq, in the words of a November 2006 analysis by the Central Intelligence Agency, resembled anarchy and "civil war." ...
In the end, the troop reinforcement proposal split the military. Even after the president had made the basic decision to send additional troops, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, never sought more than two brigades, about 8,000 troops in all, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates reported to Mr. Bush in late December. But General Casey's approach substantially differed from those of two officers who wanted a much bigger effort: the No. 2 commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen Raymond T. Odierno, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, who helped oversee the military's new counterinsurgency manual and whose views were known by the White House before he was publicly named to replace General Casey, administration officials said.
Current and former officials from the Bush administration and the military agreed to disclose new details about the debate over the troop increase in response to repeated requests. Most insisted on anonymity because the documents were still classified, but said they believed the historical record should reflect the considerations that were being weighed at the time...
Much more at The New York Times.