The briefing seemed uneventful -- very much a reflection of the ongoing mood of the moment among American commanders in Iraq -- and received no significant media coverage. However, there was news lurking in an answer Col. Bannister gave to a question from AP reporter Pauline Jelinek (about arming volunteer local citizens to patrol their neighborhoods), even if it passed unnoticed. The colonel made a remarkable reference to an unexplained "five-year plan" that, he indicated, was guiding his actions. Here was his answer in full:
"I mean, right now we're focused just on security augmentation [by the volunteers] and growing them to be Iraqi police because that is where the gap is that we're trying to help fill capacity for in the Iraqi security forces. The army and the national police, I mean, they're fine. The Iraqi police is -- you know, the five-year plan has -- you know, it's doubling in size. ? [We expect to have] 4,000 Iraqi police on our side over the five-year plan.
"So that's kind of what we're doing. We're helping on security now, growing them into IP [Iraqi police]?. They'll have 650 slots that I fill in March, and over the five-year period we'll grow up to another 2,500 or 3,500.
Most astonishing in his comments is the least astonishing word in our language: "the." Colonel Bannister refers repeatedly to "the five-year plan," assuming his audience understands that there is indeed a master plan for his unit -- and for the American occupation -- mandating a slow, many-year buildup of neighborhood-protection forces into full fledged police units. This, in turn, is all part of an even larger plan for the conduct of the occupation.