Tag Archives: troop withdrawal

Return Home Soldiers Say US Generals

Retired General Robert Scales told a Senate Committee it was imperative to begin a process that would result in bringing home most American soldiers from Iraq. He said there is no doubt a major withdrawl from combat is necessary because the United States has “run out of military options” and cannot continue the strain on our military. He frankly did not think it mattered who won the November election. “The only point of contntion is how precipitous will be the withdrawal and whether the schedule of whithdrawal should be a matter of administration policy.” Scales testified with two other retired Army generals, Geneeral Odom and General McCaffery, who agreed on the need for withdrawal. According to Odom, “the only sensible strategy is to withdraw with an over-extended army.”

Although General Scales speaks common sense, it does matter who is elected in November because a president McCain will continue the fight begun by Bush. Common sense has never been a strong aspect of the military minded McCain.

Not Homeward Bound Says Petraeus

The top US military commander in Iraq will ask President Bush to wait until as late as Depatember to decide when to bring home more troops than already scheduled. General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are supposed to tell Congress next month their recommendations for how many soldiers will be returned home. Petraeus has ben talking about a “period of assessment” which would provide a clearer indication as to how many members of the military could safely be returned. An official who briefed reporters at the White House said Petraeus was talking about a four to six week additional period of waiting before he could make final recommendations.

Secretary of Defense Gates has also indicated he savors suspension in withdrawal plans. Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently commented; “We don’t know how long the pause is going to last.”

The unspoken words about withdrawal of troops from Iraq is whether or not there might be additional need for troops in Afghanistan. Several European nations have indicated growing weariness with the apparent confused campaign in Afghanistan and might withdraw troops. There are reports the German parliament will refuse to extend the commitment of 3,000 German troops. What then? Will American troops take their place?

Troops In Iraq In 2009—And Beyond?

President Bush’s top diplomat in Iraq said the US plans on keeping troops there into 2009 and most probably beond that point. Ambassador Ryan Crocker believes the American presence is the center of gravity that holds together the effort to defeat militants in the war torn nation. He said both General Petraeus and hmself are “not the ones who make the policy decisions– not in this administration and not in the next one. If someone wants to reset the conditions, then obviously we’ll do the best we can within the context ut thos aren’s assumption that we start with.” Crocker said Iraqi chiefs are working off a blueprint that calls for “conditions-based withdrawal” that might result in some troops being withdrawn but “leave other forces in Iraq for long-haul missions such as training.”

Part of the difficulty in discussing this topic stems from the lack of a blueprint that establishes firm goals for the Iraqi government to achieve. There is also a lack of vision regarding alternative strategies for ensuring Iraq’s safety. The Bush assumption is fighting is mainly the responsibility of the United States until such time as Iraqi forces are ready to assume a greater role. But, have US and Iraqi strategists explored the possibility of engaging Muslim troops drawn from other nations such as Turkey or Iran? Iran has a friendly relationship with the current Iraqi government even though it lacks one with the United States. The Iranians could be drawn into assuming a more proactive role in fostering peace once the United States leaves Iraq. To those who fear Iranian dominance of the Iraqi government, the reality is right now its government has an influence in Iraq. The tragedy of the Bush administration is failure to work with Iran, particularly after the reform government of 2001 and 2002 provided assistance to US forces in Afghanistan. Iran offered to provide further aid but Bush rejected it. We lost an opportunity to have Iran play a forceful role in halting terrorism. Is that an option a new Democratic president could use?