Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Dawn

We remain committed to Iraqi security and retain significant combat power in Iraq despite the withdrawal of our last "combat brigade." We should make it clear with our words that we are in it for the win.

I thought the plan for Iraq was to have six advise and assist brigades (and press reports confirmed my memory), but Strategypage states that there are seven such brigades. In addition, there are 2 Army aviation brigades (with transport and attack helicopters).  Strategypage also counts two National Guard infantry brigades that provide security for our remaining bases. So Strategypage calls it eleven combat brigades.

I call it seven. I don't count aviation brigades as line units that can take and hold ground. I think of them more like air support. I also don't count the two reserve brigades that provide security. I sincerely doubt that they are organized to function as a brigade in the field but are organized into scattered security detachments that are tied to static base defense and perhaps limited escort missions outside the wire.

If the Iranians or Syrians think that they can exploit our departure, they are premature in their eagerness. Although it would be nice if the president's Tuesday night speech doesn't speak of the "end of the war" as if we are abandoning the Iraqis. The Iraqis do seem a bit sensitive to this issue:

President Barack Obama's message this weekend that Iraq would "chart its own course" may have been welcome news for war-weary Americans, but it has fueled anxieties about the future among Iraqis.

"The war is not ending. The war against terrorism continues here," Nuri al-Moussawi, a 51-year-old Baghdad resident, said.

Given that with 50,000 troops still in Iraq fighting our common enemies we are not, in fact, abandoning Iraq, it would be nice if President Obama would use words to match that commitment and reassure friends and convince foes that we are in Iraq for the long haul.
And isn't it nice to see how we turned Iraq from an enemy that supported terrorism to an ally that helps us fight terrorism?