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Thread: U.S. Said to Have Abandoned Plans to Keep Troops in Iraq Next Year

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    U.S. Said to Have Abandoned Plans to Keep Troops in Iraq Next Year

    U.S. Said to Have Abandoned Plans to Keep Troops in Iraq Next Year

    Published October 15, 2011



    A U.S. Army soldier stands by military armored vehicles ready to be shipped out of Iraq at a staging yard at Camp Victory that is set to close in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011.

    The U.S. is abandoning plans to keep troops in Iraq past a year-end withdrawal deadline, according to The Associated Press, but Obama administration officials insist to Fox News that discussions with Iraqi leaders are "ongoing."

    For months, U.S. officials have been debating whether to stick to a Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline that was set in 2008 or negotiate a new security agreement to ensure that gains made and more than 4,400 American military lives lost since March 2003 do not go to waste.

    In recent weeks, Washington has been discussing with Iraqi leaders the possibility of several thousand American troops remaining to continue training Iraqi security forces.

    But a senior Obama administration official in Washington told The Associated Press Saturday that all American troops will leave Iraq except for about 160 active-duty soldiers attached to the U.S. Embassy.

    A senior U.S. military official confirmed to the Associated Press the departure and said the withdrawal could allow future but limited U.S. military training missions in Iraq if requested.

    Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

    But George Little, a spokesman for the Pentagon, told Fox News "suggestions that a final decision has been reached about our training relationship with the Iraqi government are wrong. Those discussions are ongoing."

    White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said, "President Obama has repeatedly made it clear that we are committed to keeping our agreement with the Iraqi government to remove all of our troops by the end of this year. At the same time we're building a comprehensive partnership with Iraq under the Strategic Framework Agreement including a robust security relationship, and discussion with the Iraqis about the nature of that relationship are ongoing."

    Throughout the discussions, Iraqi leaders have adamantly refused to give U.S. troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts, and the Americans have refused to stay without it. Iraq's leadership has been split on whether it wanted American forces to stay.

    Some argued the further training and U.S. help was vital, particularly to protect Iraq's airspace and gather security intelligence. But others have deeply opposed any American troop presence, including Shiite militiamen who have threatened attacks on any American forces who remain.

    Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has told U.S. military officials that he does not have the votes in parliament to provide immunity to the American trainers, the U.S. military official said.

    A western diplomatic official in Iraq said al-Maliki told international diplomats he will not bring the immunity issue to parliament because lawmakers will not approve it.

    Iraqi lawmakers excel at last-minute agreements. But with little wiggle room on the immunity issue and the U.S. military needing to move equipment out as soon as possible, a last-minute change between now and December 31 seems almost out of the question.

    Regardless of whether U.S. troops stay or not, there will be a massive American diplomatic presence.

    The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is the largest in the world, and the State Department will have offices in Basra, Irbil and Kirkuk as well as other locations around the country where contractors will train Iraqi forces on U.S. military equipment they're purchasing.

    About 5,000 security contractors and personnel will be tasked with helping protect American diplomats and facilities around the country, the State Department has said.

    The U.S. Embassy will still have a handful of U.S. Marines for protection and 157 U.S. military personnel in charge of facilitating weapons sales to Iraq. Those are standard functions at most American embassies around the world and would be considered part of the regular embassy staff.

    When the 2008 agreement requiring all U.S. forces leave Iraq was passed, many U.S. officials assumed it would inevitably be renegotiated so that American forces could stay longer.

    The U.S. said repeatedly this year it would entertain an offer from the Iraqis to have a small force stay behind, and the Iraqis said they would like American military help. But as the year wore on and the number of American troops that Washington was suggesting could stay behind dropped, it became increasingly clear that a U.S. troop presence was not a sure thing.

    The issue of legal protection for the Americans was the deal-breaker.

    Iraqis are still angry over incidents such as the Abu Ghraib prison scandal or Haditha, when U.S. troops killed Iraqi civilians in Anbar province, and want American troops subject to Iraqi law.

    American commanders don't want to risk having their forces end up in an Iraqi courtroom if they're forced to defend themselves in a still-hostile environment.

    It is highly unlikely that Iraqi lawmakers would have the time to approve a U.S. troop deal even if they wanted to. The parliament is in recess on its Hajj break until Nov. 20, leaving just a few weeks for legislative action before the end of year deadline.

    Going down to zero by the end of this year would allow both al-Maliki and Obama to claim victory. Obama will have fulfilled a key campaign promise to end the war and al-Maliki will have ended the American presence in Iraq and restored Iraqi sovereignty.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Read more: U.S. Said To Have Abandoned Plans To Keep Troops In Iraq Next Year | Fox News
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    Good. Finally finishing a war based on flawed pretenses.
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    "...Finally finishing a war based on flawed pretenses."

    Don't be needlessly stupid.

    Are you suggesting Hussein hadn't gassed his own Kurdish population and held ambitions for far more? Or slaughtered his own shias by the thousands? Or invaded both Kuwait and Iran with ambitions to gain hegemonic control of gulf oil?

    If so, you'd be wrong. If not, then celebrate the removal of a tyrannical regime inimicable to American interests.
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2 View Post
    "...Finally finishing a war based on flawed pretenses."

    Don't be needlessly stupid.

    Are you suggesting Hussein hadn't gassed his own Kurdish population and held ambitions for far more? Or slaughtered his own shias by the thousands? Or invaded both Kuwait and Iran with ambitions to gain hegemonic control of gulf oil?

    If so, you'd be wrong. If not, then celebrate the removal of a tyrannical regime inimicable to American interests.
    My stance is far more complex. I spare no remorse for removing that animal from the face of the Earth. What I meant was we did the right thing with the wrong approach and for the wrong reasons.

    If I remember correctly (I was 10 so please correct me if I'm wrong), the main reason we went into the country was because he threw out UN inspectors and refused to cede to their authority. Plus (very flawed) intelligence from no not only us, but several other countries intelligence agencies. Our reasons should have been much clearer, and we should have included Saddam's history of violence from start, which we did not.

    Now our approach, you can immediately tell what went wrong with our approach. Our failure to anticipate a strong insurgency upon going in has cost us dearly in money and men. Instead we should have waited for popular opposition against Saddam to more strongly consolidate and eventually take arms against him. The Kurds up north are hardly enough to constitute a popular rebel movement to the majority of Iraqis. Insead, we should have played a bit more on the Shia majority in planning an overthrow against Saddam's Sunni loyalists...and intervene indirectly with airstrikes and Special Forces teams as opposed to risking boots on the ground a la Libya. Now I don't fully know the situation the military was in at the time, but there definitely should have been a better approach to what they've done.
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    "My stance is far more complex..."

    Then you owe it to others here to elucidate that complexity.

    "...What I meant was we did the right thing with the wrong approach and for the wrong reasons...."

    Nothing was operationally wrong with our war-fighting methodology. We achieved an astoundingly rapid conquest of Iraq and secured (for the foreseeable future) our essential objectives by eliminating any vestige of a meaningful WMD program, removal of a Baathist regime, Kurdish and shia security and an end to irredentist gulf hegemonism.

    Securing the political victory is where you might find some traction with your views. Doing so, minimally, would have required a far more nuanced appreciation for the post-war complexities which emerged.

    Allow me to pose an alternative hypothesis-Bush stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier in May 2003 and announced, "Mission Accomplished!" What if he'd meant it by immediately withdrawing U.S. forces and surrendering the post-war governance of Iraq to the U.N.?

    Would that have satisfied you?
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2 View Post
    "My stance is far more complex..."

    Then you owe it to others here to elucidate that complexity.

    "...What I meant was we did the right thing with the wrong approach and for the wrong reasons...."

    Nothing was operationally wrong with our war-fighting methodology. We achieved an astoundingly rapid conquest of Iraq and secured (for the foreseeable future) our essential objectives by eliminating any vestige of a meaningful WMD program, removal of a Baathist regime, Kurdish and shia security and an end to irredentist gulf hegemonism.

    Securing the political victory is where you might find some traction with your views. Doing so, minimally, would have required a far more nuanced appreciation for the post-war complexities which emerged.

    Allow me to pose an alternative hypothesis-Bush stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier in May 2003 and announced, "Mission Accomplished!" What if he'd meant it by immediately withdrawing U.S. forces and surrendering the post-war governance of Iraq to the U.N.?

    Would that have satisfied you?
    Militarily speaking, our invasion of Iraq was textbook, nothing went terribly wrong and we sustained minimal casualties. It was our inability to effectively follow up during the insurgency period which got many Iraqi civilians killed, attracted more violence towards our troops, and had our international credibility shaken. Ultimately the insurgency could not stand up to us and violence is down to it's lowest levels pre Iraq war (besides the occasional US soldier shooting and bombing), but at the cost of over 6000 men. This was probably, politically speaking, the closest we have come to another Vietnam.

    Meanwhile the current Iraqi administration enjoys "cozy" relations with Iran and supports the violent Syrian crackdown on protesters, plus criticizes US actions all over Iraq and in the world. Whether our nearly 1 trillion dollar effort in Iraq has bore fruit for us in the long term we will see...

    And to answer your question, the UN is irrelevant because they never officially sanctioned our invasion and US forces would have always taken the initiative in that hypothetical scenario....I'm just saying the US government at the time should have thought these actions out much more before carrying them out, should have considered other options before going to war. It probably would have saved a lot of lives.
    Last edited by Red Team; 16 Oct 11, at 19:20.
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    I don't see this comment contradicting your concerns.

    "...Securing the political victory is where you might find some traction with your views. Doing so, minimally, would have required a far more nuanced appreciation for the post-war complexities which emerged..."

    My point is that our primary objectives were accomplished by the invasion and its immediate outcome. Had we unilaterally withdrawn, whether governance was imposed by the U.N., some other entity, or nobody save Iraqis, would have been irrelevant to our immediate objectives.

    "Mission..." was "...accomplished".

    Had NO governance emerged and, instead, full-blown ethnic-based civil war, that development would have differed little from what actually transpired. The only difference, of course, would have been the presence of the the only force sufficiently capable of restoring order-the U.S. military.

    Under the circumstances and possible althernatives, what transpired was about as positive as might be expected. Anticipating all possible developments and providing a text-book, clinically-clean response would have been, on the whole, an unreasonable expectation.

    I don't believe it's America's fault that Iraqis maintain a poisonous disdain for one another. Neither that their society was and remains rife with corruption, tribal-based patronage or any of the other myriad congenital social-cultural pus sores with which they're afflicted.
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2 View Post
    I don't see this comment contradicting your concerns.

    "...Securing the political victory is where you might find some traction with your views. Doing so, minimally, would have required a far more nuanced appreciation for the post-war complexities which emerged..."

    My point is that our primary objectives were accomplished by the invasion and its immediate outcome. Had we unilaterally withdrawn, whether governance was imposed by the U.N., some other entity, or nobody save Iraqis, would have been irrelevant to our immediate objectives.

    "Mission..." was "...accomplished".

    Had NO governance emerged and, instead, full-blown ethnic-based civil war, that development would have differed little from what actually transpired. The only difference, of course, would have been the presence of the the only force sufficiently capable of restoring order-the U.S. military.

    Under the circumstances and possible althernatives, what transpired was about as positive as might be expected. Anticipating all possible developments and providing a text-book, clinically-clean response would have been, on the whole, an unreasonable expectation.

    I don't believe it's America's fault that Iraqis maintain a poisonous disdain for one another. Neither that their society was and remains rife with corruption, tribal-based patronage or any of the other myriad congenital social-cultural pus sores with which they're afflicted.
    Yep, which is why I believe we should be more careful in using our military might. All of these wild card factors could easily turn what was supposed to be at most a 2 year operaton into a 7 year quagmire. I would never at once question the military's decision to continue hammering down to restore order, it was done out of necessity and there was no other way around it besides bugging out (leaving complete anarchy), which would have shaken our credibility even more. We are the United States, we don't leave anything half finished (by the way Vietnam wasn't half finished IMO long story).

    All I'm saying, is that before we commit ourselves, we need to improve on making clear our long term strategic goals, making clear our enter/exit plans, and we damn need to make sure we're ready to take the hits when the shit hits the fan. That is...if full blown war is the only option left on the table.

    How I do appreciate these kinds of debates, away from the "America is evil/America is always right" extremes.
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    We have pages and pages debating about the invasion, both before and during. Needless to say, your views does not reflect the real history. I have taken months to decide whether to support the war or not. In the end and in fact, even with today's evidence, I have to say I would still have supported the war. I saw Saddam started the Iran-Iraq War and cowed both Iran and his Kurds with chemical war. I saw him getting his butt kicked in Kuwait but bounced right back to reconquer both Southern and Northern Iraq. He tried to assassinate Bush Sr. And his blatant WMD research and storage.

    Then 11 Sept happened and it opened his eyes.

    Do you really want Saddam to try blowing up an oil tanker in NY Harbour?

    Given his history, that's the one thing I was sure of - he would try.

    So, yes, we thought this out. It was a strategic imperative to take him out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    We have pages and pages debating about the invasion, both before and during. Needless to say, your views does not reflect the real history. I have taken months to decide whether to support the war or not. In the end and in fact, even with today's evidence, I have to say I would still have supported the war. I saw Saddam started the Iran-Iraq War and cowed both Iran and his Kurds with chemical war. I saw him getting his butt kicked in Kuwait but bounced right back to reconquer both Southern and Northern Iraq. He tried to assassinate Bush Sr. And his blatant WMD research and storage.

    Then 11 Sept happened and it opened his eyes.

    Do you really want Saddam to try blowing up an oil tanker in NY Harbour?

    Given his history, that's the one thing I was sure of - he would try.

    So, yes, we thought this out. It was a strategic imperative to take him out.
    I do not doubt his potential danger if he was left alive, but there were other more subtle methods if that was one of our goals, like using a dagger instead of a sledgehammer. Instead of bringing the full might of the military to bear we should have tried to work with opposition groups in the government a la Afghanistan or a la Libya more closely, not just the Kurds (Shi'ite majority). This also would've provided a greater foundation for winning hearts and minds. After the situation was stabilized or if that effort failed THEN that would've been time to send in the troops.

    To summarize my beliefs:
    Iraq war = gigantic clusterfuck of men and money
    Saddam = asshole who got what was coming to him
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    And give him time and space to plan a Halifax Explosion? That is an intolerable strategic risk.

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    Colonel, is there any evidence that he was actively planning, or even contemplating planning, such a type of attack on the US, especially after the US went into Afghanistan?
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    We have his cable to his embassies world wide to start terror operations but a real plan, no, but then we were actively reducing his intel assets ever since 11 Sept. Maybe he was not planning anything but we were not to give him the chance. His people were too busy on survival mode than to thinking about retalliation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    And give him time and space to plan a Halifax Explosion? That is an intolerable strategic risk.
    Saddam was given quite a bit of leeway (Resolution 1441 in November 2002) before the invasion (deadline was February I believe, actual invasion in March 2003) as a result of the UN ultimatum, MONTHS before the US did anything militarily as they were still deploying troops into combat readiness. Note this was a good amount of time to stage internal uprisings as we had CIA and SpecOps in country already. With that much gap in time, quite frankly, if Saddam was serious about hitting us preemptively, he would have had ample opportunity in the first place.

    Instead, he used that time to fortify his own defenses, much as a cornered man would do. His actions did not fit the kind of a extremist hellbent on annihilating US assets, more like a desperate coward whose karma was about to hit him square in the face.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Team View Post
    Saddam was given quite a bit of leeway (Resolution 1441 in November 2002) before the invasion (deadline was February I believe, actual invasion in March 2003) as a result of the UN ultimatum, MONTHS before the US did anything militarily as they were still deploying troops into combat readiness. Note this was a good amount of time to stage internal uprisings as we had CIA and SpecOps in country already.
    We had uprisings before - they failed. No amount of CIA or SF or SOF is going to stand up against chem war. And quite frankly, genocide. Unlike Qaddafy who was not able to destroy Misrata, Saddam had no qualms about cheming Halabja.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Team View Post
    With that much gap in time, quite frankly, if Saddam was serious about hitting us preemptively, he would have had ample opportunity in the first place.
    No, his capabilities outside the Iraq was reduced and continued to be reduced. Even if he wanted to do a Halifax Explosion, he would still need to find out the inspection schedule and that took effort, men, and money, all of which was carefully watched by the US.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Team View Post
    Instead, he used that time to fortify his own defenses, much as a cornered man would do. His actions did not fit the kind of a extremist hellbent on annihilating US assets, more like a desperate coward whose karma was about to hit him square in the face.
    No, he was bluffing and bluffing. He was still defiant to the end

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