"Redeployment" done right
Today's Washington Post reports that the Pentagon plans to reduce the U.S. force level in Iraq by three brigades (from 18 to 15) early next year. This would be a return to a "normal" force level, since reinforcements were deployed to maintain extra security for the consitutional referendum in October and the election next month. It is hoped to reduce the number of U.S. troops from 150,000 to less than 100,000 (10 brigades) by the end of next year, depending on how well the new Iraqi forces perform. No one knows how such contingencies will turn out, and the battlefield situation could improve markedly or deteriorate. The latter would be much more likely if the drawdown of U.S. forces proceeds too hastily, as Rep. John Murtha wants.
This is encouraging news, especially since as of eleven months ago, it was thought that 13 U.S. brigades would have to remain in Iraq through early 2007. Nevertheless, we must remember that in the heady days after the liberation of Baghdad, the plan was to have all major U.S. combat units out of Iraq by the end of 2004. Since Americans are virtually unanimous in wanting to get out of Iraq as soon as is practical to do so, the less political opportunism, the better. In that regard, it is fortuitious that the Thanksgiving holiday provides us all with a "time out" to let our tempers cool.
Murtha & retreat
Army Col. James Brown, commander of the 56th Brigade Combat Team, which is scheduled to leave Iraq next month, pointed to signs of progress in the fight, noting that the number of road-side bomb attacks is declining except in western Iraq, and warned against ending the mission prematurely:
Physically here on the ground, our job is not done. We have to finish the job that we began here. It is important for the security of this nation. It is important for the security of this region, and certainly it is important for the vital interest of the United States of America. (SOURCE: See defenselink.mil)
N.Z. Bear (via Instapundit), debunks the new "Murtha Myth" propagated by some on the Left, above all the false notion that Murtha did not call for immediate retreat but only sought to begin a discussion of the subject. There was, in fact, no mention of such dialogue in his speech on Thursday. He wants to bug out!
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) has retracted her comments on the House floor (conveying a message from a constituent) suggesting that Rep. Murtha was a "coward." In retrospect, that was unduly harsh, and disrespectful of an elder veteran, however mistaken he might be.