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Archive for Friday, July 31, 2009

Adviser urges early U.S. exit from Iraq

July 31, 2009

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— A U.S. Army adviser to the Iraqi military command in Baghdad argues in an internal memo that the U.S. should “declare victory and go home” next year, 16 months ahead of schedule.

Col. Timothy R. Reese wrote that the years-long American effort to train, equip and advise Iraqi security forces has reached a point of rapidly diminishing returns, and that Iraqi forces already are good enough to defend the government against the weakened terrorist and insurgent forces that remain.

“The massive partnering efforts of U.S. combat forces with ISF (Iraqi security forces) isn’t yielding benefits commensurate with the effort and is now generating its own opposition,” Reese wrote in a memo early this month to a number of U.S. military officials in Baghdad.

The opinion of a single colonel carries little sway with top U.S. decision makers, and it is unclear whether Reese’s view is shared by many. His view is in marked contrast to remarks Defense Secretary Robert Gates made Wednesday after visiting Iraq and speaking to U.S. and Iraqi officials. Gates said U.S. partnering with Iraqi forces in recent weeks has gone “considerably better than our expectations.”

Reese argued for ending the U.S. military mission in Iraq in August 2010. That is the date when Obama has said all combat troops will have withdrawn but a residual force of 35,000 to 50,000 troops will remain to continue training and advising the Iraqi security forces until a final pullout by December 2011.

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