Video: Is Iraq's Anbar province a lost cause?

Image: Jim Miklasszewski
By Jim Miklaszewski Chief Pentagon correspondent
NBC News
updated 9/12/2006 7:26:13 PM ET 2006-09-12T23:26:13

A new military intelligence report offers up the most pessimistic assessment yet of military prospects for al-Anbar province, the vast no-man's land in western Iraq that has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the war — from hard-hit Fallujah to the provincial capital Ramadi, which the U.S. military has never controlled.

A top secret report by a Marine Corps intelligence officer says there's no chance the U.S. military can end insurgent violence in al-Anbar, and no viable government institutions or chance for political progress anytime soon.

Even more ominous, military officials say al-Qaida in Iraq has rushed to fill that political vacuum. Military officials tell NBC News al-Qaida's also recruiting increasing numbers of Iraqi Sunnis into the terrorist group.

The Marine intelligence report says there were never enough American troops in al-Anbar from the beginning. In fact, one senior military official tells NBC News it would take 50,000-60,000 more U.S. ground forces to secure al-Anbar, and that's not going to happen.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq said Tuesday there has been some military and economic progress in Anbar, but for the first first time, it appears the U.S. military is preparing to concede a large piece of Iraq to the enemy and leave it entirely to the Iraqis to eventually sort it out.

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