New and Ugly Phase of Iraq War

This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, November 10, that has been edited for clarity.

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BRIT HUME, HOST: Helicopters blown out of the sky, American soldiers under attack every day, and night, and casualties and deaths continue. The Pentagon says more force is not needed, that the number of Iraqi forces is mounting rapidly and will be able to take over the job. But will they be able to succeed where so far Americans have not? The Iraq war is plainly in a new and ugly phase.

And the man who wrote the official history of the first phase, retired Army General and FOX News contributor Robert Scales, joins me now.

Bob, welcome back.


HUME: What about this task? Suppressing this violence, apparently carried out by a relatively small, even tiny number of insurgents...

SCALES: Right.

HUME: ... seems very difficult and is going badly. What is going on?

SCALES: Well, if you look at the numbers, the instructional manual for counter guerrilla operations said you need a ratio of 15-1. That is indigenous soldiers verses the guerrilla in order to succeed. If you look at the total number of Iraqis under arms in all the defense services, it is something on the orders of 120,000. That is one Iraqi security specialist for every 200 citizens.

And if that's not increased soon, if the number of Iraqis who engage in their own defense isn't escalated quickly, then that 15-1 ratio is years, years over the horizon.

HUME: Rumsfeld has said that they expect it will be over 200, 220,000 sometime next year. You add that to the U.S. forces present, we're up to something like 350,000 men under arms in Iraq. Men and women under arms in Iraq.

SCALES: Right. Right.

HUME: Is this enough to do this job, in your judgment?

SCALES: It is getting close. But remember now, the American involvement is going to have to peter out over the next year or so. We have 20 of the Army's 33 brigades deployed in Afghanistan, Korea, and Iraq. That's two out of three. And if you believe the rotation schedule, which says a minimum of three brigades to support one brigade deployed, we are getting to the point where U.S. presence is going to have to decline and Iraqi presence is going to have to increase. and that is going to have to be done sooner, rather than later.

SCALES: It is very clear from the number -- the growth in the number of Iraqis who have been trained that they are being trained very quickly.

HUME: Right.

SCALES: The Pentagon has said that, fortunately, they're not having to be trained to be regular army soldiers, or regular military soldiers, that they are trained very quickly for something more like police or guard duty.

HUME: That is right.

Will such forces, so lightly trained, so to speak, be able to do the job that they are being called on to do in Baghdad, Tikrit, Fallujah, particularly Fallujah, places like that?

SCALES: Well, there's risk on both ends of the spectrum. You deploy too many forces too soon and you risk not properly vetting them and not properly training them. But if you wait too long, you have too few forces in the field and enemy gains the advantage.

Look. America's principle strategic advantage is dead Americans and intelligence. We have too many of the former and too little of the latter. And the way that you fix that problem is you put an Iraqi face on the security problem in the region. You use Iraqis to gather your intelligence. After all, the best source -- as we learned in Vietnam, the best source of intelligence is always the local, tactical, indigenous guy on the beat who can give you the tactical intelligence you need to react quickly to situations. The clearest way to do that is to 'Iraqify' this war as quickly as possible.

HUME: But when the moment comes, what are we talking about here? Iraqis well enough trained to not only pick up a piece of information off the street, but to call in his compatriots to go conduct the raids to do the job?

SCALES: Sure. Sure. Well, no. I mean the U.S. forces will do the hard stuff. They will do the cordon and search operations, the cordon and clear operations, they'll do the deep strike operations. They are the ones who handle the firepower problems and that sort of thing. But the face on the street, the guy who is gathering intelligence, who is looking out for the bad guys, who is guarding installations, has to be increasingly become Iraqi. And it has to be done, I think, fairly quickly.

HUME: Is it your sense that they are being recruited and trained fast enough, and that they are available in sufficient number?

SCALES: No. No. No. I would rather see less well vetted, perhaps less well-trained Iraqis put on the street sooner. Look. Nothing -- it's never going to be perfect. Sometimes in the United States, we're very process-oriented. You know, we want to make sure we hit every gate before we put somebody on the beat or in the field. This is not the American Army. This is the Iraqi security forces. And they don't have to -- it shouldn't take a year to put a substantial force of, say, the Civil Defense Corps out there that's going to number something on the orders of, what, 40,000, 50,000.

HUME: Well, they're talking here about having as many as 200,000 by next year. That sounds fast to me. Am I wrong?

SCALES: Well, 200,000 of everybody.

HUME: That's counting...

SCALES: Yes, sure. You have got 55,000 police out there. You've got about 40,000 of the ICDC. You're talking about doubling the force -- not quite doubling the force in a year. Probably we could do better than that.

HUME: Bottom line, I take it is we may be doing the right thing, but we need to hurry.

SCALES: Accelerate. Exactly.

HUME: All right. Bob Scales, always a pleasure to have you. Thanks very much for being here.

SCALES: Good to see you Brit.

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