Monday, November 21, 2005

''Leaving Iraq, the right way''

"The status quo in Iraq is untenable. It is slowly but surely eroding American power and weakening our ability to keep Americans secure. But simply shifting gears into reverse and implementing a hasty withdrawal from Iraq is not the answer.

The only measure of where and when to use our military forces is: Does it make us safer? Nearly 31 months into the continuous deployment of more than 100,000 troops to Iraq, the clear answer is that having such a large number of troops on the ground is actually diminishing our security and not making Iraqis more secure.

The United States must begin redeployment in January, right after Iraq has its next election - whether to elect a permanent government or an assembly to draw up a new constitution. The Bush administration has left us with no better choice.

We believe the United States needs to pursue a plan of strategic redeployment - a threat-based strategy to target U.S. efforts against global terrorist networks and bring greater stability to Iraq and its neighborhood.

Strategic redeployment is a phased plan for drawing down U.S. troops starting in January. U.S. troops would completely withdraw from Iraq's urban areas, finishing the handover of responsibility already begun in Najaf, Karbala, parts of Baghdad and other major cities.

By the end of next year, 80,000 of the 150,000 U.S. troops currently deployed in Iraq would be redeployed from the country. All National Guard and Reserve units would be demobilized and returned to the United States next year. The other active duty troops scheduled to be deployed to Iraq in 2006 would be sent to other hot spots around the globe in the fight against terrorists, with nearly two divisions going to Afghanistan to fight a resurgent Taliban insurgency and other troops going to the Horn of Africa and Southeast Asia to meet emerging threats there.

In addition, an additional 14,000 troops redeployed in 2006 would remain over the horizon in Kuwait and in a Marine expeditionary force situated off-shore in the Persian Gulf to conduct strikes in coordination with Iraqi forces against any significant threats that might emerge.

Throughout 2006, continued U.S. military presence in Iraq would focus more sharply on its core missions: completing the training of Iraqi forces; improving border security; providing logistical and air support to Iraqi security forces; serving as advisers to Iraqi units; and tracking down insurgents and terrorist leaders with smaller, more nimble Special Forces units operating jointly with Iraqi forces. The continued presence would also reduce the chances for a full-blown civil war, although Iraqi leaders such as Ayatollah Ali Sistani have much more power to prevent civil war than U.S. troops do.

By the end of 2007, the only U.S. military forces in Iraq would be a small Marine contingent to protect the U.S. embassy, military advisers to the Iraqi government and counterterrorist units working with Iraqi forces.

Strategic redeployment differs from other plans for what to do in Iraq by recognizing that Iraq is now connected to a broader battle against global terrorist networks - even though it wasn't before the Bush administration's invasion.

Strategic redeployment rejects calls for an immediate and complete withdrawal, which would only serve to further destabilize the region and embolden our terrorist enemies. But strategic redeployment also rejects the current approach, right out of Osama bin Laden's playbook, for a vague, open-ended commitment that focuses our military power in a battle that cannot be won militarily, as Gen. George Casey, commander of the multinational force in Iraq, recently told Congress.

Our military presence in Iraq continues to feed the notion of occupation and extends the time for Iraqi forces to become self-sufficient. The time has come for strategic redeployment of our forces."-from the Newsday op-ed by LAWRENCE KORB AND BRIAN KATULIS, that Howard Dean referenced today on "Majority Report."
Thanks to Susan Hu on Booman Tribune for digging it up.

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