Quick Withdrawl From Iraq Would Wipe Out Security Gains
February 29, 2008
For quite some time now, we’ve heard the anti-Bush crowd rant, rave and scream that we needed to bring all of our Troops home from Iraq now. We’ve stated all along, as have most milbloggers, how unrealistic that demand is. For just as long, milbloggers have said that to do so, would spell disaster for our Troops as they were leaving the country, as well as disaster for the Iraqi people. Many of our Troops who have or are serving in Iraq, say that there are visible signs of progress and they want to finish the job that they started.
Milbloggers have shared story after story of schools being built, hospitals being renovated, security being improved and essential services being restored. We’ve wittnessed countless Iraqi’s standing up and taking ownership in the well being of their country and it’s people, by joining the Iraqi Security Forces and volunteering for community watch groups. Things that we take for granted here, but were unheard of in Iraq, until a short time ago. Milbloggers and the Troops aren’t the only ones who feel that way. Yesterday, in an address to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and later to reporters, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Admiral Mike Mullen said that the military must be prepared across the board for whatever changes would occur with a new president. He said that he would in no way attempt to predict what a new president might do, once they come into office, or even attempt to predict decisions they might make, but that all branches of the military needed to be prepared for whatever might occur.
“I do worry about what a rapid withdrawl … in a situation that wouldn’t call for that in terms of the conditions on the ground, which would then … basically turn around the gains we have … struggled to achieve and turn them around overnight,” he said.
Mullen went on to say that he would strongly advise against a rapid withdrawl from Iraq, not indicated by conditions in the country. He went on to say, that when the new president comes into office, that he’ll receive his orders and be prepared to carry out those orders.
When asked about US military force levels in Iraq and his recommendations for withdrawals of troops, Mullen said that he is unsure at this time, what kind of pause there would be, after all of the surge brigades were withdrawn in July. He choses to wait and see what commanders in Iraq and at US Central Command recommend, before he makes any recommendations to the Defense Secretary and the President. He went on to say that the length of the pause, would dictate how long it would be before the Defense Department and the Army would reduce tours in Iraq from the current 15 months to 12 months. While he’s aware of the difficulty in shortening the tours, he says it’s something that must occur.
“It’s this very, very delicate balance between continuing to make progress in Iraq, to resource what we need to do in Afghanistan, and to give the Troops a break after a long demanding time at war,” he said. “We’re going to continue to be engaged. I’m hopeful the optempo will go down a bit.”
Addressing the war in Afghanistan, Mullen said that the training mission there is the top priority and that even though the combat mission will remain, trainers are the long-term solution to the security and stability in the country. As things continue to improve in Iraq and troop numbers are reduced, then more trainers will be able to be sent to Afghanistan to meet those mission requirements.
As Admiral Mullen said, the decision to reduce force size in Iraq, is one that requires scrutiny of many delicate issues. While I’d love nothing more than to see our Troops brought safely home, realistically, I know that it’s imperative that our Troops be allowed to continue to do their jobs and complete the mission of bringing peace and stability to the Iraqi people. I have to agree with Admiral Mullen’s assessment of the situation.