Today’s remarks by General Casey, that seem to indicate some troop reduction in Iraq by years end, coupled with yesterdays Associated Press article outlining a significant reduction in military equipment in the troubled country may be the makings of an October surprise. What I find particularly curious is that while we are seeing signs of a pending military reduction, we see the Republican Party spinning calls by Democrats to begin the process of transitioning security and military oversight to the Iraqi’s as a “cut and run” strategy.
As I view the facts, it appears to me that the realities on the ground may in fact come close to matching the objective outlined in one of the Democratic proposals…and yet if we listen to the rhetoric on the floor of the Senate, one would be apt to conclude that the difference between the Republican and Democratic strategies is significant and tangible. My cynical and suspicious mind tells me the administration may be splitting hairs in order to garner political advantage.
BALAD, Iraq — The U.S. military has begun sending thousands of battered Humvees and other war-torn equipment home as more Iraqi units join the fight against insurgents and American units scheduled for Iraq duty have their orders canceled.
In the last four months, the Army has tagged 7,000 Humvees and 17,000 other pieces of equipment to be shipped to the United States to be rebuilt. They then will be distributed among active and reserve units at home, or possibly returned to equip Iraqi security forces.
“This is all a byproduct of Iraqi forces accepting battle space and U.S. forces being displaced, which has allowed our government to decide not to send more forces,” said Col. Jack O’Connor, commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command’s sustainment brigade in Iraq.
While I’m certainly not a military strategist, logic tells me that one doesn’t remove equipment from the battlefield unless troops are going to follow. What troubles me is that the Bush administration has long argued that establishing any time line for troop withdrawal would be tipping off insurgents…a move that might allow those who are intent on defeating the efforts to establish a democratic society in Iraq a strategic advantage. While removing equipment isn’t the same as establishing a hard and fast withdrawal date, it certainly provides some clear insight into the U.S. intentions. In addition to giving the insurgents some sense of timing, it also begins to give the Iraqi’s notice that they must begin the process of assuming responsibility for their own security…something many Democrats have been suggesting needed to happen for some time now.
“It is much harder to move equipment than it is to move people,” said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute. “So if the Army is increasing its movement of equipment out of the country, that may signal that it expects fewer soldiers in Iraq six or 12 months from now.”
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