Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., predicted this morning that the wheels have been set in motion for a gradual withdrawal of U.S. military personnel from combat zones in Iraq.
"I think if you just look at the chess game that's been set up, it's where we are. We're going to redeploy the troops because we don't have another option," said Boyda, a member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. "Our troop strength for all intents and purposes is gone. Our equipment, we haven't called up the industrial base, so we're not even keeping up with re-setting of our equipment."
Boyda answered questions on a variety of topics for about an hour in front of 100 people during a Lawrence Chamber of Commerce event at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H. She represents the state's 2nd Congressional District, which includes western Lawrence, Leavenworth, Topeka and much of southeastern Kansas.
Since her campaign last year when she upset incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun, Boyda has criticized the Bush administration's management of the war. But she's come under fire from anti-war protesters who say she hasn't pushed hard enough for a faster resolution to the conflict.
She said the troop redeployment would not "be anything that happens overnight," and that it would "destabilize the area even further." Boyda also said not enough has been done to pull in the Iraqi political structure in the region.
The top American commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David Petraeus, has also made news this week for saying that U.S. forces have to be smaller by next summer. The general is scheduled to give a report on the recent troop surge, its progress and the situation to Congress in September.
Boyda said Democrats would stand up and insist on redeployment.
"It will happen because that's our only option," she said. "We're in a corner militarily, and then the Democrats are going to get blamed for the instability that it causes in the region. Mark my word on it."