Friday, February 27, 2009

When A Withdrawal Isn't

Coming home?

President Obama's announcement today that he's pulling troops from Iraq by September of next year seems like the satisfaction of a campaign promise. But a closer look shows that's not exactly true.

First, he had promised during the campaign to get the troops three months sooner. For another, he's still leaving up to 50,000 troops in country until the end of 2011.

So it's really not a withdrawal as advertised. It's only a reduction.

Some will argue that he's pulling "combat troops" out and that those remaining will perform other functions. Nonsense.

First, the term combat troops is redundant. Whether actively engaged or not, all troops are combat troops.

Second, this is not like the troop deployment in, for example, Germany. Iraq remains a dangerous place for everyone, including U.S. troops.

The reduction of troops is a refreshing move in the right direction. But let's not start throwing ticker tape parades for Johnny coming marching home quite yet. That will have to wait 'til New Year's Day, 2012.

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Anonymous said...

What don't people understand? 16 to 23 months. Obama during his campaign announced he was going into Afganistan, another reason he was elected.

Anonymous said...

That's exactly what I thought when I heard the news this morning. September!?!?! Of this year!?!?!

Helen Polychronakos

Anonymous said...

It's a combat zone. The times, they are a-changin'...

Anonymous said...

If the American people really believed Obama would bring all troops home from Iraq in his first year I have a bride to sell them. Yes it needs work, but still a good old bride.

Fact is America will always have troops in Iraq as the US has built 13 permanent bases and an Embassy bigger then the Vatican. In fact id be very surprised if the troop reduction really happens at all.

Lots can happen in 2 yrs. Plus any troops leaving Iraq will be going to Afghanistan. Just a re-arranging of the Grand Chess Board.

Anonymous said...

Well looks to me like Obama is trying to make himself look good. Take credit for something he is not doing......oh well the saga continues

Anonymous said...

Yes, we can't quite celebrate but it is hopeful. Hope things work out that the last 50,000 troops are safe.

Anonymous said...

This much is true Gary. But as you say, a reduction is a step in the right direction and a move in the right direction is much better than 8-years of moves in the wrong direction. Well stated, and concessions will have to be made by the President. I truly don't think he wants to leave our men and women in harms way with a political move abruptly to satisfy a campaign promise. As long as it happens eventually, as you say, January 1, 2012, and does it right, America will forgive him.

Anonymous said...

It was a clever speech that said nothing new. He did, however fall short of admitting that the surge DID work since that would have meant giving credit to the previous administration.
To quote Shakespeare: " It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying - nothing!"

James said...

I am certainly not surprised. In Fact i believe this will be yet another in a series of compromises to be brought forth by President Obama. We are getting what we asked for. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

somehow i think there will be a few big bases, close to the oil fields. with a 'mutual defense' treaty. and some contracts to exploit the oil, no doubt. to be fair, the kurds will welcome protection from their 'countrymen' and the turks.

but in the end, rumsfeld's grand design may yet succeed, even if his satisfaction will be cold.

oh, mother, how did i ever become so cynical about mycountrytisofthee?

stevedtrm said...


Kucinich and Ron Paul are honest politicians in a pit of vipers. They'd return the troops almost immediately. Obama was allowed to get to the presidency through media promotion recisely because he's ready to make a break promises and betray the US population. The main two parties cannot be trusted and Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich only REMAIN THERE BECAUSE THEY FORCE OTHER PARTIES OUT OF THE RACE.

FacetiousMuse said...

I don't know why no ever noticed that when Obama was asked about withdrawal of troops in Iraq he was always very careful to say combat troops.

July 28, 2008 (before the election) Obama said: "My goal is to no longer have US troops engaged in combat operations in Iraq", declining to put a specific number on forces who should be left behind to perform counter-terrorism operations and to train Iraqi troops. Maybe people need to start listening and hearing what was said instead of hearing only what they want to?

Although it is a technicality the US military does in fact have separate defination for combat and non-combat troops. There has even be discussions how much more pay combat troops should receive over non-combat troops.

Although all US military is train in combat actions, not all troops are MOS trained and employed as an infantryman.Specifically, DOD defines direct ground combat as engaging “an enemy on the ground with individual or crew served weapons, while being exposed to hostile fire and to a high probability of direct physical contact with the hostile force’s personnel.”

In addition, DOD’s definition states that “direct ground combat takes place well forward on the battlefield while locating and closing with the enemy to defeat them by fire, maneuver, or shock effect.” According to ground combat experts, “locating and closing with the enemy to defeat them by fire, maneuver, or shock effect” is an accurate description of the primary tasks associated with direct ground combat units and positions. However, DOD’s definition of direct ground combat links these tasks to a particular location on the battlefield—“well forward.” In making this link, the definition excludes battlefields that may lack a clearly defined forward area

Troops are always recognized as a "combatant" and thus responsible to know how to handle themselves should combat occur around them, but again technically that does not make one a combat MOS trained troops.

Nonlinear battle is as old as warfare itself - I am not clear what distinction you are seeing in today's operations. Enemy raiding parties have always attacked rear supply lines. Mass bombing of civilian populations became popular in WWII. Throughout the Korean war, whether fighting Guerrillas in the south (no US forces involved really, though) or finding themselves infiltrated at Division and Corps level with mass Chinese Forces, non-combat troops found themselves frequently fighting and dieing among their combat arms brethren. The operations of guerilla fighters in South Vietnam are part of American pop-history. In none of these examples did involvement in fighting make those under attack combat troops, just merely soldiers doing their job - one that is inherently dangerous. Simply being a potential or actual victim of combat violence does not make one a combat soldier.

Although T thermy tradition of wearing a combat patch applies to all soldiers in theater. There are MOS-specific combat only awards I can think of off the top of my head are the CIB and the Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon - those both have very specific guidelines for receipt. Oh yeah – and the Air Medal.

Do I think Obama was sneaking in his campaigning, maybe. Yet I also think people in general need to take responsibility in hearing what is said not only what they want to hear, we cannot keep allow yourself to do otherwise.

Just my thoughts

Vandenplas84 said...

Obama being the typical politician has changed his mind from next to no troops in his election to tens of thousands being kept there.
As by the muted applause in front of hundreds of servicemen people are disappointed in thinking he would 'change' their lives and make the world a better place in 5 days. I suspect this is the first of many lies and now is on the verge of talking to terrorists and listening to them. America is being seen as weak and the only way we the freedom loving people of the world should talk to them is from a position of strength.

Andrea said...

Anyone who actually though ALL troops would come home is living somewhere over the rainbow. The region is very unstable. What concerns me most is actually naming a date when the majority of our troops will be out. That still seems to me to be a signal to the major dissident forces to wait it out, then our guys that are left there "peacekeeping" have big huge targets on them.

I guess we will all have to see how it goes. Not like we have a choice with Pelosi and Co. standing there behind the President with her big ole chesire cat grin.