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Week's War Activities Recounted

Aired January 27, 2007 - 19:00   ET


TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR, THIS WEEK AT WAR: A new push by President Bush on Iraq and pushback from friends and foes. While the question lingers, can Iraqis step up. And from Lebanon, new Mideast warning bells. THIS WEEK AT WAR is one minute away after headlines right now.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, everybody. We're in the control room here at CNN. We'll be switching things out for you throughout the night, as we head you through a night of exciting programming. First of all though, let's do this. Let's bring you up to date on what's going on right now. Three more U.S. troops lost their lives today in Iraq. The soldiers were on a security escort mission north of Baghdad when a roadside bomb detonated near their vehicle. Also celebrities, lawmakers and civil rights leaders join tens of thousands of protesters today on the national mall. The anti- war demonstrators demanded U.S. troops be pulled from Iraq. Many of them plan to stay in Washington through the weekend trying to convince members of Congress stop funding of the war.

Also President Bush and Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki say that they're on the same page now when it comes to the plan for securing Baghdad. The two leaders held a conference call earlier today to discuss Iraq's ongoing political and security issues. Remember, throughout this night, if at any time news breaks, we're going to break in right away to take you where you need to go. Also for now, let's get you back to the WEEK AT WAR with Tom Foreman. And don't forget, later tonight at 10:00 Eastern, teen sex, should it be criminalized? We'll see you then.

FOREMAN: In Iraq, questions about the readiness of Iraqi troops as more U.S. forces pour in. At home, White House hopefuls debate the strategies with their eye toward 2008. In Lebanon, a struggle for control as Hezbollah flexes its muscle against the western backed government. I'm Tom Foreman, filling in for John Roberts THIS WEEK AT WAR. Let's take a look at what our correspondents reported day by day. Monday, prominent powerful Republican Senator John Warner breaks with President Bush and opposes more U.S. troops in Iraq.

Tuesday, President Bush asked Congress to support the troops in the field and those on the way.

Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, all the Democrats and one Republican formally oppose the Bush plan. Thursday, Lebanon demonstrators turn deadly as Hezbollah turns up the heat on the U.S.-backed government there. And Friday, we learn the Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to capture or kill Iranian agents in Iraq if they are plotting attacks. Among our elite THIS WEEK AT WAR troops, Arwa Damon on another deadly battle in Baghdad, John King on the presidential candidates and the Iraq factor and Jamie McIntyre on the new commander in Iraq, THIS WEEK AT WAR.

What do the latest round of attacks on Americans tell us about the dangers ahead as even more U.S. forces move into harm's way and will the loud political debate in Washington have any impact on what's happening in Iraq? Joining me now first, Arwa Damon in Baghdad and with me here Rick Barton, co-director of the post-conflict reconstruction at CSIS, the Center for Strategic and International Studies. On Wednesday, Arwa Damon was embedded with U.S. troops on another fire on Haifa Street, the second major conflict in that area this month.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A precision guided U.S. missile fired from a site unseen leveled the build where the insurgents were hold up. As soon as the building falls, the insurgent guns go virtually silent. It's the reminder that the Iraqi army still needs the United States military.


FOREMAN: Arwa, let's check in with you first on the ground. This trouble on Haifa Street, this is right off downtown Baghdad. It's the middle of everything. Is there a sense that there is progress being made by the Iraqi military in handling these problems?

DAMON: Well Tom, you have to put it into perspective. When it comes to Haifa Street, what's interesting there, is that it was actually, is actually still under Iraqi army control, but they asked the Americans for help in dealing with the insurgency that exists there. When we do see this fusion of U.S. and Iraqi forces, there is also the realization that the Iraqis still do need the Americans, on at times, even the most fundamental of levels.

For example, on Haifa Street, one of the key lessons that the Americans were trying to teach the Iraqis was to come dominate key terrain, to place their forces around the battle so they can better fight the insurgents and prevent them from returning. So in one sense, the Americans are looking at Haifa Street and saying that it was a great opportunity to work with the Iraqis, to teach the Iraqis another lesson and this is being one of the many lessons that's being transferred. But it does really underscore how crucial the relationship between the Iraqis and the Americans is and really at this point, the necessity of American troops here on the ground. Most of the Iraqis that we speak to tell us just that.

FOREMAN: Rick Barton, the "New York Times" said this week, many of the Iraqi army units who were supposed to do the actual searches off the buildings along Haifa Street in this area, did not arrive on time, forcing the Americans to start the job on their own and when the Iraqi units finally did show up, it was with the air of a class outing, cheering and laughing as the Americans blew locks off doors with shotguns. That's in the "New York Times." Do you buy the idea that the Iraqi troops are making progress or are these kind of lessons that Arwa is talking about very late in the game?

RICK BARTON, CTR FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: They're very late in the game. They're capable of making progress, but they're not going to do it until it's clear they have ownership and responsibility and that they believe in what they're fighting for. Some of these forces are coming down from the Kurdish areas and they don't really like the assignment and others just don't like fighting their own people. Until they believe in their own government, they're not likely to be a real force. And until they know that they're really responsible, they're never going to grow up to that point.

FOREMAN: What makes them not believe in their own government?

BARTON: It's become -- the political process in Baghdad is a greenhouse process. It's all kind of kept protected separate from reality. And the average citizen is seeing their country falling apart, their neighbors moving, 100 people they know or have heard of getting killed a day, kidnappings all over the place. It's pretty hard to believe that this government actually cares about what's most important in their own lives.

FOREMAN: Arwa, is that something that you hear on the street there from the normal soldiers, is concern that while they're off fighting, their own homes aren't secure or they don't feel that they're being watched out for by this new government?

DAMON: For the most part, actually, yes. I'll give you an example of a story that one soldier told me in terms of the risk that he's undertaking just being part of the army. He had to move from his house into a more secure compound because he received a threat that an insurgent group was going to kill him. The troops for the most part, there is this sense of patriotism that they want to fight for their country. They want to do the right thing but they're not quite sure how to go about doing it. And there is a certain lack of faith in their government amongst the Iraqi army as well as the other security forces out there really, that the government at the end of the day is actually going to be able to do the right thing, especially this current government that many perceive as being predominantly Shia, is only serving its own sectarian interests and it's going to take a lot for the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to prove that his government is not, that it is really one of national unity.

FOREMAN: It does seem a remarkable thing to be talking about unifying and solidifying the country and then Baghdad when there seems to be such a struggle over a single street in Haifa Street. One of the questions I suppose is what's the measuring stick? Listen to what John McCain said this week.


SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R) ARIZONA: One of the areas that we really need to work on is setting some benchmarks so the American people and the Congress know whether we are making progress.


FOREMAN: Do we have any kind of reasonable measuring stick for what's going forward there, because I think if you asked most Iraqis, if you asked most Americans, what's better at the end of January than happening at the beginning of January, I don't think most of us had answers.

BARTON: One thing the prime minister talked about this week, in this highly controversial televised session of the parliament. He said, we're going to start to arrest people who have moved into other people's houses. That's a very practical tangible measure. If there are 1,000 houses that people have been moved into or moved into on their own and they're moved out and they're arrested, that message will get around.

FOREMAN: What else do we have to hear from Maliki? What can the Iraqi leadership do while Washington wrestles with what it should do?

BARTON: He's in an extremely weak position. He can't fix a pothole really right now without a bunch of guards around him. So the key political step he has to take, precondition for progress in Iraq is for Maliki to set the withdrawal date for foreign forces. If that doesn't happen, everything else that's going on is just so much show and it won't take hold.

FOREMAN: Rick Barton, thanks for being here. Arwa Damon in Baghdad, thank you so much. Big events in Iraq echo all the way back here to Washington, of course, especially as more presidential candidates emerge and line up for and against the new strategy. We're back with our political team on the Iraq factor and the 2008 election.

But, first, a THIS WEEK AT WAR, remembrance.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you more than anything in the world. Remember that. Keep that in your heart always and forever.


FOREMAN: Friends mourning the death of Private First Class Ming Sun of Cathedral City, California. Sun was the first non-U.S. citizen from China to be killed while serving in Iraq. At his funeral service, Sun was given something friends and families say he always wanted, U.S. citizenship.


KENNY WOO, FRIEND: The many years he's been here he still wasn't a citizen. Having been granted citizenship, I think was a very honorable thing.


FOREMAN: Private Sun was killed by small arms fire in Ramadi (ph), Iraq early this month. He was assigned to the first battalion second infantry division out of Fort Carson, Colorado. Sun was just 20 years old.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new plan on its own does not guarantee success.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D) ILLINOIS: I did not see a strategy for success in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is difficult to understand why more U.S. troops would make a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is basically and fundamentally wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Baghdad plan offers a bolder use of Iraqi military forces and innovative use of American forces.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D) NEW YORK: I'm against this escalation because frankly I think it's more of the same.


FOREMAN: An ever louder chorus of presidential wannabes. It was supposed to be President Bush in the spotlight Tuesday with his state of the union, but in his audience a lot of people that want his job and have their own ideas about the war. How important is a strategy on Iraq to these presidential hopefuls? In a word, it's a probably essential. Joining me now, two of the best political team on television, chief national correspondent John King and senior political analyst Bill Schneider. On Friday, President Bush again defended his more troops plan and sent a put up or shut up signal to the presidential candidates and his other critics.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some are condemning the plan before it's even had a chance to work and they have an obligation and a serious responsibility to put up their own plan as to what would work.


FOREMAN: So John King, are they ready to put up or shut up?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right now, if you're the Democrats, your plan is that you're against the president and most of the Democrats say start bringing troops home in four to six months, redeploy outside of the nasty parts of Baghdad and the Democrats counter this administration would say sit down at least once or twice with Iran and Syria and and see if you can work it out. The Republicans are for the most part, the senior Republican candidates, the major Republican candidates for the most part back the president. McCain has the most exposure there because he for months and months has been say send in more troops. So if more troops go in and it doesn't work this time, you could make the case that McCain would be vulnerable politically so they do have plans. Iraq is the defining issue now. The election is still a long ways off.

FOREMAN: Bill Schneider, is there a difference for Republicans and Democrats on this in that maybe you say one thing to get elected. Maybe to actually solve the war, you have to have a different plan.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Solving the war requires a plan of course. Democrats say, look, the president's plan has been in place for almost four years now.

John Edwards said he's had surge after surge and it hasn't worked. So this is really nothing new. The critics call it the same thing on steroids. Their argument is we don't have to come up with a whole new plan. All we have to say is this isn't working and we have to try something else. We have to get out of Iraq and go, at least be on the sidelines around the borders just to protect our interests.

FOREMAN: Aren't these candidates on the Democratic side, they're going to feel more pressure as these two years pass to say it's not enough to say George Bush is wrong. What's your plan?

SCHNEIDER: What's your plan for what? That's the point. The president says that have to come up with a plan for what he calls victory. The Democrats say they don't have to come up with plan for victory. They have to come up with plan that will protect the interests of the United States.

KING: I think you raise a good point though. Being president is often very different than running for president. Remember Bill Clinton back in 1992 couldn't believe how the former President Bush was dealing with what he called the butchers in Beijing and the dictator in Damascus? Bill Clinton came to office and had very close relations with China and did business with them. (INAUDIBLE) Syria. George W. Bush right now saying nation building is not the business of the United States especially not the business of the United States military. I will not do that as president (INAUDIBLE)

FOREMAN: There seems to be a little bit of I don't want to call it confusion, disagreement in the White House about exactly what's happening. Listen to the president and the vice president this week on the war.


BUSH: This is not the fight we entered in Iraq but it is the fight we're in.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bottom line is that we have had enormous successes and will continue to have enormous successes


FOREMAN: In one breath, we're hearing the same line we heard before. It's going well and the other one saying, well, it's not going the way we expected it to. What are we to make of that Bill Schneider?

SCHNEIDER: That the war has changed. The president said that (ph). We're still there. We're still fighting, but our objectives are different. We still got in of course to overthrow Saddam Hussein. We did that, then all of a sudden there was an insurgency and we had to contend with that. Now, there's chaos and disruption and sectarian violence and we have to contend with that. The president is saying our interests are the same. but the nature of the fight has completely changed.

FOREMAN: Many people have said that the next president not only has to deal with this war, but has to deal with repairing international chaos in terms of our relations. Let me just pull from this past week. When you look at the globe scan (ph) poll, the U.S. government's handling of Iraq, in that poll, 73 percent of the people disapprove of how it's been handled. Is either camp better prepared to mend those international fences and how will they do it?

KING: Every president gets a clean slate. Even George W. Bush had a clean slate when he started. Bill Clinton had a pretty good standing around the world, even going in the impeachment debate back here in the United States. But then George W. Bush right off the bat said he would not sign on to Kyoto and that hurt his relations, especially in Europe and then 9/1 came and his standing went back up and then the Iraq war brought it back down. Any new president gets a clean slate. The question is will they have a different relationship? The world wants the United States to talk to Iran and to Syria. So if a Democrat wins, that is likely to happen, so perhaps that would get you a little good will out of it again.

Would John McCain talk to Iran and Syria? Probably. Would he come to it with the openness the Democrats have? Probably not. You have to see who is elected first and again, we have to see how the debate, not only about Iraq, but about Iran, North Korea and so how other big issues in the world changes between talking about this now in January 2007 and a new president two years from now.

FOREMAN: Bill Schneider, where do international relations have to fit on these candidates' agenda and on the new president's agenda?

SCHNEIDER: Very high because right now, it's amazing that the conflict in Iraq completely consumes the agenda. I have never seen such a disparity as we see now in the polls when people are asked what's the most important problem facing the country. Iraq is way up here and everything else is in single digits. The economy, healthcare, those are concerns and those are important concerns

FOREMAN: Those were the things that we once thought would trump everything else.

SCHNEIDER: That's right and people actually think the economy is doing pretty well but it didn't have any impact on the election. Iraq consumes the agenda. As long as this conflict continues and Americans are getting killed and the situation looks chaotic, that's going to continue right through the elections.

FOREMAN: Bill Schneider, John King, thanks so much. We'll see what happens with all of these candidates.

From politics in the U.S. to political chaos in Lebanon. Will that U.S. backed government fall or can it survive another round of violent protests? That's coming up THIS WEEK AT WAR.


FOREMAN: How can Lebanon and its U.S. backed government survive in the face of violent massive demonstrations and economic paralysis? Are we seeing the final act of the drama that erupted into war along the Lebanon/Israel border last summer? Joining me now, CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson in Beirut and here in Washington, Salameh Nematt, Washington bureau chief of al Hayat newspaper and Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation.

On Thursday, Nic Robertson reported on the violent protests from the streets of Beirut.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Violence sparked in the late afternoon by clashes between pro and anti-government factions inside the campus. Lebanese Army soldiers on foot and in armored personnel carriers pushed forward towards the rock throwing youths. From the tops of vehicles in the midst of the chaos, appealing for calm.


FOREMAN: Any sense, Nic right now that this appeal for calm will do any good or is it getting beyond that?

ROBERTSON: It seems at the moment and this is the real concern that it perhaps is getting beyond that, perhaps is getting beyond the capabilities of the leaders here to sort of dial back the tensions that have sprung up in this last week that are reminiscent for many people here of the sort of civil war that was ended in 1990. What people are seeing, gunmen on roofs, talking about this in terms of Shia and Sunni is reminiscent of the civil war. There's a sense as well that while the leaders are calling for calm, they're not changing anything in their real rhetoric that's actually going to calm their people down or substantially change their positions to really bring the temperature down at the moment Tom.

FOREMAN: Salameh Nematt, I guess the question for many people who sit at home and who sort of thought that was over a few months ago, is what in a nutshell is this all about? What's the real driving force behind this?

SALAMEH NEMATT, AL HAYAT NEWSPAPER: The big picture is an American-Iranian confrontation over Lebanon, over domination of Lebanon by proxy. This is part of the regional war, regional confrontation. You have these parties that are allied with the United States within Lebanon. Of course, there are other parties, including Arab states, Saudi Arabia, in particular, who are on the government side and naturally Hezbollah, which is an arm of Iran in Lebanon, together with pro-Syrian forces, they want to destabilize this.

FOREMAN: They want a lot more control in that region. What do the normal people of this country think of this?

NEMATT: I'm not sure if there are any people left in Lebanon who are not polarized, being allied with one party or the other. In a sense, there are no independents. You have these people who back the government, the elected government of Lebanon and those who want to overthrow the government of Lebanon. The pro-Syrian, pro-Iranian sides, they did have support within Lebanon among the Shia community and some Christians against the mainstream Christians, the Jews and the Sunnis in Lebanon. So everybody is polarized. That's why the situation is pretty tense at the moment.

FOREMAN: Let me ask you about this. It seems really it's a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde here. On one side, you have people who are politicized, remembering the battles of only a short while ago and feeling like they're harkening back to those and at the same time, there must be many people there who are saying, heaven sakes, not again?

ROBERTSON: It really is like that and that was brought home to me today at a funeral I was attending, a Shia funeral, several thousand people in that community, very pro-Hezbollah, very pro the opposition, very anti-government community. At the gravesite, there were so many young people, the young man's wife for example and many of his obvious friends and contemporaries, who were in tears. Emotions were very high and very strong, the young community who don't have such strong recollections of the civil war. But as you walked away from the gravesite, you came across the older men who were sort of muttering and talking among themselves much more subdued and you could really see the look in their faces, obvious anguish at the general community pain over this death, but concern as well for what they see happening, for the recollections that this is bringing back for them.

And then one old Sunni man, old Shia man rather we talked to earlier today, didn't bring religion into this. He said whoever is trying to bring down Lebanon and cause destruction at the moment, this country is like a tent. Whoever brings the tent down, they bring it down not just on themselves but on everyone. He means that if somebody sparks problems here, sparks crisis, sparks civil war, it will affect everyone in the country.

FOREMAN: U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice on Thursday at the international (INAUDIBLE) conference in Paris said the people of Lebanon want to be unified. Listen to her comment.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The people of Lebanon want a Lebanon that is peaceful, unified, that respects Lebanon's great cultural and religious diversity and that shows that people who are different do not take that difference as a license to kill, but rather as a license to live together. (END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Very briefly Salameh Nematt, do you buy that? Is that a correct assessment?

NEMATT: By and large, people do want to live in peace in Lebanon. The problem is that when the situation is so polarized, then you have a party such as Hezbollah preventing (INAUDIBLE) the downtrodden and the disadvantaged Shiite minority.

FOREMAN: It makes it very very difficult.

NEMATT: It makes it very difficult, especially by the Shiite minority, which is a sizable minority, does feel threatened by the Sunni Christian alliance that feels marginalized even further. So they see Hezbollah as a kind of protection and guarantor that was a sharer of power in Lebanon.

FOREMAN: (INAUDIBLE) Salameh Nematt, thanks so much for being here. Nic Robertson. We're moving back to Iraq in a moment. What difference will a new general make there? What blame does the present brass deserve? Stick with us THIS WEEK AT WAR.




LT. GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. ARMY: The situation in Iraq is dire. The stakes are high. There are no easy choices. The way ahead will be very hard.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lieutenant General David Petraeus at his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday. President Bush chose him as his new commander in Iraq.

While Petraeus is heading in, General George Casey is on his way out. But Casey now faces Congressional opposition over what could be his next assignment -- Army chief of staff.

Will a new U.S. commander make the difference in Iraq and can an old one or should an old one take the blame?

Joining me now, a long time comrade in arms of General Petraeus, CNN military analyst Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks, U.S. Army retired. And senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre.

Spider, let's start with you -- what do you think about Petraeus showing up here? Is this a good, new start? Or is he simply taking on a very difficult job that others have tried hard at?

BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The answer to both of those is yes. It is a new start and it is a very, very difficult way ahead and it's a very difficult mission that he has. I mean, Dave Petraeus is a very talented man. He's got the right skill sets. He's fought in Iraq. He's trained Iraqis. He's spent the last year-and-a-half thinking about how to improve that. He is the man for the job, so he's the right choice.

Is this a very difficult mission ahead?

Oh, absolutely. And he indicated that when he spoke to the Senate this week.

So I think there's no mystery that this is a difficult road ahead, but he's the right guy for it.

FOREMAN: Jamie McIntyre, are people over at the Pentagon congratulating him or offering condolences because of the difficulty of this task?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, like "Spider" Marks said, the answer to both of those is yes.

You heard him jokingly refer to this since his confirmation hearing. He was getting e-mails that had the subject line "congratulations, I think."

You know, one of the people who knows Petraeus really well said that the -- the comparison they made was a brilliant surgeon going into surgery with a critically ill patient. The patient may or may not survive and it doesn't necessarily reflect on the brilliance of the surgeon.

And Petraeus himself knows that he's been dealt a really tough hand. But he's going to give it his best shot.

FOREMAN: let's listen to what General Petraeus said himself about the obligation that any soldier faces in war.


PETRAEUS: I firmly believe that I have an obligation to the great young men and women of our country, who are putting themselves in harm's way, and certainly to all Americans, to tell my boss if I believe that the strategy cannot succeed at some point.


FOREMAN: Jamie, you're around all of these folks over at the Pentagon all the time. Like bosses everywhere, they often don't want to hear bad news.

Can someone like General Petraeus deliver on that kind of promise against the power system of Washington?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, when you get to become a four star general -- and he's going to be four stars now -- you don't have anyplace else to go. So if you don't have the integrity to stand up for what you believe in, then you probably shouldn't be in the job. The other thing he said during that hearing was that he was going to give his best military advice and if they didn't like it, they could just fire him and get somebody else to give their best military advice.

So very blunt talk from Petraeus, who has put his reputation on the line, as well.

FOREMAN: Spider, what happens when somebody does that, though, if they go to the Pentagon, if you have one of your trusted, respected military leaders say this is not going well, it must change?

Can that tail wag the dog of the White House and say you must change?

MARKS: It sure better. I mean, you know, warfare is politics by other means, as Clausewitz taught us. Dave Petraeus understands that and he understands that he is the leader of an effort to achieve some political in states.

So there are a bunch of inputs that are required in order to make this right.

So Dave Petraeus is an -- is a tremendous commander of integrity. And we were all raised in a military where we -- it was demanded of us to speak up. Dave has indicated he will. I'm confident he will. So he has to bear that news to the boss, whether that's the president of the United States, the secretary of defense or, more importantly, I think the focus has to be, as Dave indicated, it must be on those young men and women that are below him that are doing all the heavy lifting. He has got to level with them and there is no doubt that he will.

FOREMAN: One little point I want to touch on here about Casey. Senator John McCain this week has been one of the people raising questions about the future of General Casey. This is what he had to say: "I have really serious concerns about General Casey's nomination. I'm concerned about failed leadership, the message that sends to the rest of the military. I have hard questions to ask him and I'm very skeptical about it."

Jamie, is this a fair statement -- failed leadership? Do people at the Pentagon see it that way?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, General Casey made a lot of predictions that did not come true, about the potential for troop cuts, about the abating of violence. And he did preside over a very bad year in Iraq.

My sources tell me, though, that while McCain is very upset about this, that he will not block Casey's confirmation. You know, it only takes one senator to do that. And it looks like it's going to be a rough ride for General Casey, but the -- the betting is that he will be confirmed as Army chief of staff.

FOREMAN: The same question to you, Spider, is it fair to use the word failed about any of the people who have led us in Iraq at this point?

MARKS: I don't think it's fair at all. Every one of the leaders that has been in Iraq that are in uniform that are prosecuting this war that will exist for many, many years, circumstances that they could shape, they shpd. And the conditions and the requirements and the resources that they are handed, they salute and they make the best of it.

George Casey is one of those absolutely first rate leaders that will do a great job in his next job, as the chief of staff leading and restructuring the United States Army. Good choice.

FOREMAN: Thanks, Jamie McIntyre over according to the Pentagon.

Spider is going to stick around with us.

Straight ahead, we'll be going to the map with General Marks to get specifics of what U.S. forces can do now to secure Iraq.

But first, celebration and uncertainty for the Army's 10th Mountain Division. Friends and family gathered in Upstate New York's Fort Drum Army Base on Wednesday to welcome home soldiers after a year long deployment in Afghanistan.

Jennifer Mciver knows there will be tough times ahead for her family and for now is cherishing the moment.


JENNIFER MCIVER, WIFE: We're just so excited that we survived our first year. And I'm sure we'll have many more to go, but it just is nice to know that there was an end up. There was an end.


FOREMAN: There will be bittersweet days ahead. This week, the Pentagon said it's extending the tours for more than 3,000 soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division. Some soldiers will immediately redeploy to Afghanistan or they'll support NATO forces in quelling violence there.


FOREMAN: More U.S. troops going into Iraq. More on the way.

What can they do to keep themselves safe and get the job done? How can they turn this fight around?

CNN military analyst Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks is back with some answers.

Spider, let's get right to the map and take a look at this. This is the general region.

MARKS: Hopefully I'll give you some answers.

FOREMAN: Hopefully.

This is the region. There's Iraq in the middle in red.

What do you do, if you're General Petraeus, you're the new troops coming in, you're the old troops who are there.

What do you do?

MARKS: Well, first of all, the intellectual precedes the physical. We've thought about this. We've designed a plan. We've now asked for some forces. Let's show them where they're going to be deployed.

Let's get into Baghdad. First of all, I think it's very, very important that we continue to emphasize the type of urban terrain. This is what we talk about when we talk about urban terrain. Look how densely packed this is. The avenues are not very broad.

FOREMAN: These streets right through here? This is what you're saying?

MARKS: Absolutely. But more importantly, look at the alleyways that exist in between the homes. A lot of opportunities for bad guys to make their movements throughout the city and, more importantly, the fight exists within a city block. Very, very important that you have sufficient forces in this area to control the activity.

FOREMAN: OK. What about these -- these places that are important within this region?

Obviously every neighborhood matters.

But what about this?

This is a new site for a grand mosque.

MARKS: The grand mosque.

FOREMAN: An important target.

MARKS: You've got it.

FOREMAN: What's happening here?

MARKS: You've got it. We've been looking at this for years and years. In fact, when Saddam was -- was running around like a lunatic that he was, this was something that we looked at greatly. We thought this had multiple capabilities.

Look how large this is.

How do you protect this facility? How do you allow the Iraqis to continue to grow this, build this, make this a vibrant, a vibrant part of their community?

FOREMAN: But you're saying it is very -- it is critically important to show that you can protect something like this?

MARKS: Oh, absolutely. And in a facility like this, Tom, you not just are trying to control it -- what call the incl. You h to control the routes in. You have to be able to present.

FOREMAN: All of these areas out here?

MARKS: Absolutely.

FOREMAN: Every potential strike point?

MARKS: You're going to have forces way out to the side, all around this thing giving you the leading indicators, the indicators that there might be a problem. So it's important to get an outer ring as well as an inner ring to protect a stationary or a fixed target like this.

FOREMAN: we'll talk a little bit about these areas that people have to patrol. As we go out along the roads here, here's a patrol moving down one of these roads.

Do you -- look, let's say you control some neighborhoods.

MARKS: Right.

FOREMAN: Let's say you control some critical points.

How do you start building these spokes out from this and making them secure?

MARKS: Tom, a very important point. If you control a neighborhood, you're essentially an island completely cut off if you don't have a route to connect other key pieces of terrain.

FOREMAN: And that's why this is so important.

MARKS: Absolutely critical. The airport is over here to my left.

FOREMAN: Oh, this way?

MARKS: We've got Baghdad in that direction. And routinely there are patrols that go up and down these main roads. Each one of them has armored Humvees. They might have Abrams tanks. You might have Bradley fighting vehicles, Stryker vehicles. And as more forces come in, this type of activity that you see right here will be increased you'll have more of it because of the numbers.


A bigger problem. Let's say that you can do that. Let's say that these additional troops are very focused, very disciplined and if the Iraqis rise a little bit, you start securing that some.

How do you even begin to deal with the bigger question of things like this? These are the oil fields that are spread all across Iraq here.

How do you deal with that?

MARKS: Absolutely. You have to have good intelligence. You have to have the ability to have national systems that are collecting and you have to have good intelligence on the ground. You have the South Ramiyah Oil Fields (ph) over here. You have the Kirkuk oil fields up north.

What is not known widely is that in and around Baghdad you have oil...

FOREMAN: Right in this area.

MARKS: ... you have oil fields in the city of Baghdad. Those require point target security. You also have to have very good intelligence to protect the outer ring, as we've talked about. It takes a lot of resources.

FOREMAN: very briefly, is it possible to secure in here and expand out now?

Because it seems like that's been the plan for so long.

Is it possible now?

MARKS: Tom, that's a great question. What you see now, what is the intent is to achieve what's called the oil stained strategy, a military operational term, which means you create a presence, you dominate that very precise area and then you expand like an oil stain from it. That's what this is intended to do.

FOREMAN: We'll have to see if it works.

General Spider Marks, thanks so much, as always.

MARKS: Thank you, Tom.

FOREMAN: Great insights.

Coming up, sticking with Iraq -- the two year anniversary of the deadliest day for U.S. forces in Iraq. I'll look back at the fight that took the lives of four U.S. Marines, the ambush at the River of Secrets.

But first, some of the fallen in this week at war.


FOREMAN: This weekend marks the two year anniversary of the deadliest day for U.S. forces in Iraq, January 26, 2005 -- 37 fatalities.

I recently had a chance to visit with all of the families of the first men to fall on that terrible day for a special CNN report called "Ambush at the River of Secrets."

They were U.S. Marines from the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, Charlie Company, based in Virginia. The unit was driving away from its first ever firefight, relieved, laughing, even, that they had survived.

And then the world shook.


ANDY GENTRY, CHARLIE COMPANY: There was a loud freaking explosion. And then my ears were ringing and I kind of didn't know what happened.

BILL MEYERS, CHARLIE COMPANY: I didn't know what it was. I had gotten blown up into -- almost over onto the driver.

FOREMAN: A rocket-propelled grenade had been fired from the mosque, according to military investigators. In less than two seconds it flew almost 1,000 feet to the very limit of the weapon's range. It landed in the back of the speeding vehicle, just behind Bill Meyers' seat, on top of Jonathan Bowling.

MEYERS: I yelled at the driver keep driving, keep driving. And there was so much commotion on the radio that I just -- I turned back and I got close to Gentry and I said, "What's going on?"

GENTRY: I started yelling, you know, saying, all right who's -- who's still with us, you know?

MEYERS: He said it's bad. It's bad.

GENTRY: By the time I got to Strong, I realized that we just took our first casualty.

FOREMAN: The Humvee is still operable, so it begins rolling as quickly as possible back home.

(on camera) What was the ride like in the back of the vehicle?


FOREMAN (voice-over): At the dam, the four are rushed into a room where medical teams frantically begin to work.

GENTRY: They're all four right next to each other.

STAFF SGT. BUTCH DREANY, CHARLIE COMPANY: Jesse was obviously dead to me. Bowling and Linn were still breathing.

And Weaver didn't have a mark on him that I could see. But he was motionless.

FOREMAN: Jesse Strong and Chris Weaver are pronounced dead. Jonathan Bowling and Karl Linn are loaded onto a rescue helicopter. They die in the air. In a single night, the engineers have lost half their men to injuries and death. They killed and wounded many more insurgents. But that's not on their minds as they gather for a memorial service in the morning sun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world is now going to miss out on what these four Marines had to offer.

FOREMAN: One by one, the members of Charlie Company pay their respects -- a brief moment to say good-bye and to honor.

STAFF SGT. MIKE SPRANO, CHARLIE COMPANY: And these were friends of ours. These were just great, great people. And yet, you know, what they died for was what we were still doing. And they were Marines and we were Marines, and we had to do what we had to do. And that's what we did.


FOREMAN: "The Ambush at the River of Secrets."

Keep an eye out for when the whole show re-airs here on CNN. It happened on the Euphrates River in the Al-Anbar Province, still very dangerous terrain for U.S. forces and where more of them are headed.

Coming up, my thoughts on what happened two years ago.

And it's still happening in Iraq.


FOREMAN: Ninety years ago this year, a Broadway producer was riding to work and thinking about the big news headline of the day. The United States, after much consideration, was entering World War I and he thought what can I do to somehow help the American troops?

Many Americans have had that same thought since this war in Iraq began. Over the past few months, I visited with dozens of people who have lost family, friends, comrades in the fighting. And they have an answer -- just don't forget.

While we argue and debate, young Americans are fighting every moment of every day, willingly risking their lives to do what we have asked them to do.

George Cohen on that day so long ago wrote a song that has endured as one of the most popular and inspirational war songs of American history.

So let's keep this sentiment in mind and not for a moment forget the Americans who are fighting over there.

Now, a quick look at what we are expecting next week at war.

Tuesday, the co-chairmen of the Iraq Study Group, James Baker and Lee Hamilton, are back before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Also Tuesday, Admiral William Fallon talks to the Senate Armed Services Committee about taking command of all the U.S. forces in the Mideast.

And Friday, Secretary of State Rice hosts Mideast peace talks in Washington.

Thank you for joining us on THIS WEEK AT WAR.

I'm Tom Foreman filling in for John Roberts.

Straight ahead, a check of the headlines.

Then, CNN's Investigations Unit presents the Emmy Award winning documentary, "How To Rob A Bank."


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