OUT? MAYBE IN 20 YEARS: Our Military Bases in Iraq Are Essential
I’ve long held that a, if not THE, main reason for invading Iraq was the establishment of military bases for the use of force (or the threat of the use of force) in the region. I’ve long said that we will have troops stationed in Iraq for decades.
This article, originally written last fall during the Presidential campaigns, agrees, though I don’t necessarily agree with everything in it. First of all, I do truly believe that the installation of a capitalist democracy in Iraq is a central strategy in the long-term war against international terrorism and medieval totalitarianism. And though he’s right about the value of water, he seems to overlook the fact that the Euphrates originates in Turkey and runs the entire breadth of Syria before even entering Iraq.
I think that the long-term presence in Iraq will consist of a couple of Army brigades, as well as pre-positioned equipment for several more. We will continue to have significant air assets based in the region, too, though non-helicopters may be in other countries like Kuwait or Bahrain. I also think it will take at least three more years to reach the two-brigade level, and quite possibly longer.
It would be suicidal for the United States to withdraw militarily from Iraq for at least ten years and probably 20. The level of forces needed to maintain control can fluctuate as the situation dictates, but the presence of significant forces is a necessity.
This is not to say that the United States will not withdraw, but only to underscore the price of such foolishness. The United States has, through bad politics, misdirection and clouded thinking, made monstrous errors of judgment in the past and is certainly capable of doing so in the future. It is only to say that should we, through a posturing for mere political power at home, cede military control of Iraq and hence the Middle East before the matter of Islamic fundamentalism is settled, and the Islamic cultures fully assimilated into the 21st century, departure early would only require our subsequent return. And that return will be far more bloody and necessary than anything seen to date in what is still a brush-fire war.
My thinking exactly. (via Donald Sensing)
UPDATE: And Army Times has a more level-headed story on the troop level planning mentioned this weekend.
It includes this on the preparation of Guard and Reserve troops:
August has been the deadliest month of the war for the National Guard and Reserve, with at least 42 fatalities thus far. Schoomaker disputed the suggestion by some that the Guard and Reserve units are not fully prepared for the hostile environment of Iraq.
“I’m very confident that there is no difference in the preparation” of active-duty soldiers and the reservists, who normally train one weekend a month and two weeks each summer, unless they are mobilized. Once called to active duty, they go through the same training as active-duty units.
In internal surveys, some in the reserve forces have indicated to Army leaders that they think they are spending too much time in pre-deployment training, not too little, Schoomaker said.
“Consistently, what we’ve been (hearing) is, ‘We’re better than you think we are, and we could do this faster,”‘ he said. “I can promise you that we’re not taking any risk in terms of what we’re doing to prepare people.”