Last night, President Obama announced that we’d defeated the Iraqi regime and the combat mission was over. He went on to explain, that while 100,000 troops have been called home, 50,000 troops will remain to complete a new mission; advising and assisting Iraq's security forces, supporting Iraqi troops in targeted counter-terrorism missions, and protecting our civilians.
I applaud the sentiment, but “supporting Iraqi troops in targeted counter-terrorism missions” still sounds like combat to me. Keep in mind, they won’t be going from a front line to doing a series of raid and grab missions. This was never a war of trenches on either end of a battle field with lateral movement back and forth. “Taking the hill in sector Bravo,” was never a part of this war. The majority of combat has been in the form of raid and grab missions based on intel, and responses to terrorist violence. It sounds to me as if our 50,000 remaining troops are being asked to do more of the same, only with Iraqi security taking the lead.
In 2003, our last president declared victory in Iraq, then used it as an excuse to deny imminent danger pay and family separation pay to 157,000 soldiers and their families. I realize our economy’s in the toilet and we need to make cuts, but I hope last night’s speech isn’t the opening act of a rerun of 2003. If this is truly the final phase of a ten year war, great. However, I fear it may simply be a relabeling of duties which have been performed for the last decade.