Wednesday, August 18, 2010
U.S. 4th Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division leaves Iraq
The last American combat brigade has left Iraq.
Its soldiers did so, like all of the other American and coalition forces who've served and returned, as heroes. My pride in them and gratitude for them is boundless; it's a worthy national goal to simply strive to be worthy of the men and women who've volunteered to serve in America's military. They are magnificent.
The remaining American forces, roughly 50,000 in number, are tasked mostly for training missions. "Training" can include "goin' along" with Iraqi forces on dangerous stuff; at least some of our trainers and support personnel could be re-tasked to more violent pursuits in a sufficient pinch; and even non-combat military operations can be awfully dangerous. Our remaining forces will still see casualties at some level.
But this news brought to mind a post I wrote in October 2003, not too long after we'd toppled Saddam, entitled The Slog: Paying the priceless price on a time-payment plan. Immodestly, I think it holds up pretty well.
UPDATE (Thu Aug 19 @ 10:55 a.m.): A military source advises NRO's Dan Foster that the WaPo's generalization regarding the "last combat brigade" may be somewhat misleading, as there will still be five brigades remaining in training capacities that have comparable (and therefore very substantial) combat power if needed. I'm glad to hear that. I'm pretty sure the U.S. forces still in Germany and South Korea, for example, are also potent and well prepared for more than just parade-ground duties, decades after almost all of the shooting there has stopped. In some respects it's a symbolic gesture to declare "Operation Iraqi Freedom" over, just as it was a symbolic gesture for Bush, on the deck of the Lincoln, to declare the end of major combat operations. But yeah, by then we'd accomplished regime change and stopped fighting major actions against organized uniformed Iraqi forces, and now we're down to a much smaller sized force whose main purpose isn't fighting. That certainly doesn't mean they can't if called upon to. But it's still a transition worth noting with pride and satisfaction.
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(1) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Aug 19, 2010 1:02:27 AM | Permalink
Dear Mr. Dyer: Yes "The Slog" does hold up well save for that line about we aren't striving to make Iraq into Iowa, or even CALIFORNIA. After what happened in the city of Bell, and given the caliber of candidate running for CA state office the Iraqis may start smirking at this comparison...
I wish The One would read and ponder "The Slog," instead of doing damfool actions such as a) substantially beefing up American forces in Afghanistan while b) declaring that they will be withdrawn for certain sure by summer 2011 and c) grandly saying "Let Dave P. do it. Given this action, it's no wonder he said he was for building the mosque before he was against it, not that he's withdrawing his support for the statement that doesn't mean what others thought it meant...God help any foreign nation trying to make rational analysis of The One's foreign policy. They'd do better to assume he's a dunderhead, but one who has plenty of victims he can sacrifice to redeem his imbecilities.
(2) Dustin made the following comment | Aug 19, 2010 1:54:47 AM | Permalink
"We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail." (GWB).
It's heroic that these men saved this country. No doubt, they paid a heavy price, but they have saved millions from oppression, and they volunteered. Such wonderful people. If everyone had the gracious heart of a US Soldier, there would be no war.
I credit Bush. He didn't have to see this through, but he won this war, at the expense of basically all his political capital he could have used on many other things. He had this won before he left office because he knew if he didn't, there would be no freedom in Iraq... no potential turning point in this long doomed region. Russia is working to cement Iran, while we're working to lift Iraq.
I hope to see parades and speeches and heartfelt thanks for this massive accomplishment, and frankly, that would greatly bolster the party in power in the eyes of many people, as serious leaders and patriots.
What these people accomplished was unbelievably difficult. No other force ever assembled in the world could have done this, at least not without massive bloodshed.
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