Following up on Mike's post about McCain's response to the ISG, Baker and Hamilton have now responded to McCain. In a back-and-forth they had with the Arizona Senator at the Armed Services Committee hearing this morning, Baker said (c/o The Caucus):
First of all, with respect to the augmentation of forces, we call for a five-fold increase in the U.S. combat forces dedicated to the training and equipping mission.
We do point out that those forces could be--it's up to the commander in chief, of course--they could be available perhaps in region without bringing them in from the United States or they might be brought in from the United States.
We did receive commentary from people to the effect generally that we do not have readily available combat forces up to the level of 100,000, that if that were the policy approach that was suggested that would be available to go in there for at least quite some time.
And Hamilton said:
Senator McCain, I'll pick up on the last point you made first, and that relates to the risk to embedded American forces with the Iraqi forces. You're absolutely right about that; there are risks there. And if you put American forces right into the middle of this sectarian violence working with the Iraqi forces, those young men and perhaps young women, too, are in a place of danger.
Now, we tried to deal with that by saying that we're going to do everything we can to--by way of force protection. We will have combat forces there to protect the embedded forces. We're going to have all kinds of logistics and supply efforts to help them, but there is no blinking the fact that that's a risky mission and a difficult mission, and we should not slide over it, as you have not in your comments.
I think that's wise-man-ese for "screw you."
P.S. And before any TalkBackers get on TNR's case for fixating on McCain (I'm looking at you Cookie!), let me just point out that, while lots of pundits and bloggers are jeering the ISG, most pols are singing its praises--or at least remaining respectfully non-commital. So far as I can tell, only McCain and Murtha have voiced serious criticisms of the ISG. So, love him or hate him, McCain is newsworthy at the moment. If Murtha has a colloquy with Baker and Hamilton, I'll blog that too.