United States Senators Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced their plan today to introduce legislation in the coming weeks titled the, ‘Iraq Study Group (ISG) Recommendations Implementation Act of 2007.’ The bill would make the ISG recommendations the basis for future U.S. strategy in Iraq and will be introduced in the coming weeks. Senators Salazar and Alexander also sent a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to gather support for the proposed bill. A copy of the letter is available by clicking here.
The ISG was created in March of 2006 at the request of a bipartisan group of members of Congress and was co-chaired by former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III and former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Lee H. Hamilton. The ISG released their recommendations in December of 2006 that built a bipartisan approach to bring a responsible conclusion to the Iraq war. Specifically the bill sets a ‘new way forward’ by establishing as United States policy:
· A new diplomatic offensive in the region that includes the creation of the Iraq International Support Group;
· Giving the highest priority to training, equipping and advising the Iraqi military and security forces;
· Assessing the full budgetary and personnel impact of the war in Iraq on the United States Military;
· Accelerating and increasing oil production and accountability including equitable distribution of oil revenues in Iraq;
· Implementing and oversight of economic reconstruction programs in Iraq with the creation of a new Senior Advisor for Economic Reconstruction;
· Ensuring that the President includes the cost of the war in his annual budget request; and
· Setting conditions that could lead to redeployment of United States combat brigades not needed for force protection as early as the first quarter of 2008 if diplomatic, infrastructure and security benchmarks are met.
“I believe that the work of the Iraq Study Group is a model for how Congress and our Nation can come together in good faith to develop a new way forward in Iraq,” said Senator Salazar. “Their recommendations provide a roadmap for transitioning our troops from a combat role to a support role, for how we can continue to strengthen and support our own military and for specific milestones the Government of Iraq needs to meet. At the end of the day the Iraqi people are ultimately responsible for their future; this bill that implements their recommendations ensures we have a plan to help them.”
“We owe it to our country and our troops to find a bipartisan consensus to support where we go from here,” said Alexander. “We need a political solution in Washington, DC, as much as we need one in Baghdad. And we need to get out of the combat business and into the support and training business as soon as we honorably can. I have spoken to Secretary Baker and Congressman Hamilton, and they have confirmed this legislation accurately reflects the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group report.”
Regarding the proposed legislation, Iraq Study Group co-chair, Mr. Lee Hamilton said, "Any U.S. effort in Iraq will fail without unity of effort between our political parties, and between the President and the Congress. The Iraq Study Group forged a bipartisan consensus behind a comprehensive political, economic and military way forward in Iraq which allows for a responsible transition of U.S. forces out of Iraq. I commend this effort to embrace the spirit and substance of the Study Group Report, and for seeking the bipartisan unity of effort that this country needs to move forward responsibly."
Last week President Bush, at the Associated General Contractors of America Convention, said the United States should ‘seriously consider the recommendations of the ISG, "I'm asked all the time about strategies. I liked what James A. Baker and Lee Hamilton reported back after a serious investigation of Iraq. I liked their ideas. And it's something that we should seriously consider. And their idea was, is that at some point in time, it makes sense to have a U.S. presence configured this way, embedded with Iraqi forces, training Iraqi forces, over-the-horizon presence to provide enough security to know that people will have help if they need it, but put the -- more onus on a sovereign government of Iraq, a presence to keep the territorial integrity of Iraq intact, a special ops presence to go after these killers who have got their intentions on America. It's an interesting idea."