If we ‘cut and run’ today, we’ll be years leaving Iraq

Published 5:57 pm Monday, July 30, 2007

By Staff
After finishing "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" and watching news reports that people are paying $6.40 a gallon for bottled tap water and astronauts are accused of flying drunk, I turned back to the reality of the war.
From Baghdad July 26, our top general and diplomat in Iraq warned against cutting short the American troop surge and suggested they would urge Congress in September to give President Bush's buildup strategy more time.
Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, in separate Associated Press interviews at their offices on the banks of the Tigris, were careful not to define a time frame for continuing the counterinsurgency and higher U.S. troop levels that began six months ago.
Petraeus indicated he would like to see a substantial U.S. combat force remain on its current course well into 2008 and perhaps beyond.
He also said a drawdown from 160,000 U.S. troops is coming, but he wisely did not say when. He said it would be done "over time, without undermining what we've fought to achieve."
I don't think we non-military types have the proper appreciation for the pace with which America will withdraw from Iraq.
We have committed so many billions of pounds of equipment that there ought to be mountains visible on the desert moonscape.
Beyond the 15 principal military bases, including parts of the Green Zone and Camp Victory near the Baghdad airport, the United States has hundreds of smaller installations and outposts, 38 supply depots, 18 fuel centers and 10 ammunition-storage facilities.
To minimize exposure to insurgent attack, I read in Time magazine, most troops leaving Iraq could be flown out from 16 U.S. air bases in Iraq.
But each of the 20 combat brigades has about 100 million pounds of gear. The Army would decide how much to leave behind or destroy.
Most Army vehicles would have to leave by Main Supply Route Tampa, a long expressway to Kuwait through Shi'ite dominated southern Iraq.
Some vehicles could go north to Iraq's Kurdish area and into Turkey or west to Jordan.
Can you comprehend a 100-mile convoy? I can't.
Even before the surge of 30,000 troops to secure Baghdad, the Army had at least a fourth of its vehicles and a fifth of its helicopters deployed in either Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
The large majority are in Iraq, including 24,000 Humvees, 679 Bradley vehicles, 366 M1 Abrams tanks, 192 M88 Recovery vehicles, 3,282 heavy trucks, 912 trailer trucks, 60 Kiowa helicopters, 120 Apache helicopters, 292 Blackhawk helicopters and 63 Chinook helicopters.
"It's going to take longer than September," Crocker acknowledged. "There is tremendous damage that's been done physically, politically, socially and it's going to take time to repair."
"It is not as though we can simply decide that we do not want to be involved anymore and the movie comes to an end," Crocker said. "The movie will keep on rolling in Iraq and in the region whether we're here or not. I, for one, as someone who has spent decades in the Middle East, am deeply concerned about what could happen if we decide based on reasons other than conditions on the ground in Iraq that we simply don't want to be involved anymore."
Crocker said the consequences could be inroads by the al-Qaida terrorist network – which President Bush mentioned 27 times in one speech – intervention by Turkey and other neighboring states and a "massive human catastrophe."