Obama’s Campaign Promises Vs. The Reality On The Ground In Iraq

David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, our top generals in Iraq, have now weighed in on Obama’s plan to have our combat troops out of Iraq in sixteen months and their verdict isn’t favorable,

A new military plan for troop withdrawals from Iraq that was described in broad terms this week to President-elect Barack Obama falls short of the 16-month timetable Mr. Obama outlined during his election campaign, United States military officials said Wednesday.

The plan was proposed by the top American commanders responsible for Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus and Gen. Ray Odierno, and it represents their first recommendation on troop withdrawals under an Obama presidency. While Mr. Obama has said he will seek advice from his commanders, their resistance to a faster drawdown could present the new president with a tough political choice between overruling his generals or backing away from his goal.

The plan, completed last week, envisions withdrawing two more brigades, or some 7,000 to 8,000 troops, from Iraq in the first six months of 2009, the military officials said. But that would leave 12 combat brigades in Iraq by June 2009, and while declining to be more specific, the officials made clear that the withdrawal of all combat forces under the generals’ recommendations would not come until some time after May 2010, Mr. Obama’s target.

…But in discussing the new plan, senior military officials nonetheless made clear that they were not comfortable with the time frame Mr. Obama articulated in the campaign. “Sixteen months is going to be tough,” said one senior military officer who was briefed on the plan. “We are not quite there yet.”

Personally, I’d like to see us have our combat troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. If we could feasibly do it next week, that would suit me just fine. But — and this is a huge BUT — we’ve sacrificed an enormous amount of blood and treasure to get to the point where we’re winning this war. To have politicians in D.C. throw away a hard fought victory for political expediency would not only be incredibly foolish, it would be an insult to our troops who have bled, sweated, and died to win the war in Iraq.

Now, if Obama can get all of our combat troops out in 16 months without Iraq flying apart at the seams, more power to him — and who knows? Maybe the situation will improve enough in the coming months that we can have our combat soldiers out by May of 2010. If so, that would be fantastic.

But, if not, Obama should remember that he is inheriting a war that is being won. If it’s lost, it will be Barack Obama not George Bush, who gets the blame — and make no mistake about, whatever the American people’s feelings about Iraq are today, their fury at seeing defeat snatched from the jaws of victory because of political gamesmanship would be absolutely titanic.

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