December 21, 2008
WASHINGTON – United States military leaders and Pentagon officials have made it clear through public statements and deliberately leaked stories in recent weeks that they plan to violate a central provision of the US-Iraq withdrawal agreement requiring the complete pullout of all US combat troops from Iraqi cities by mid-2009 by reclassifying combat troops as support troops.
The scheme to engage in chicanery in labeling US troops represents both open defiance of an agreement which the US military has never accepted and a way of blocking president-elect Barack Obama’s proposed plan for withdrawal of all US combattroops from Iraq within 16 months of his taking office.
By redesignating tens of thousands of combat troops as support troops, those officials apparently hope to make it difficult, if not impossible, for Obama to insist on getting all combat troops of the country by mid-2010.
General David Petraeus, now commander of CENTCOM, and General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, who opposed Obama’s 16-month withdrawal plan during the election campaign, have drawn up their own alternative plan rejecting that timeline, as the New York Times reported on Thursday. That plan was communicated to Obama in general terms by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen when he met with his national security team in Chicago on December 15, according to the Times.
The determination of the military leadership to ignore the US-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and to pressure Obama on his withdrawal policy was clear from remarks made by Mullen in a news conference on November 17 – after US ambassador Ryan Crocker had signed the agreement in Baghdad.
Mullen declared he considered it “important” that withdrawal of US forces from Iraq “be conditions-based”. That position directly contradicted the terms of the agreement, and Mullen was asked whether the agreement required all US troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2011, regardless of the security conditions. He answered “Yes,” but then added, “Three years is a long time. Conditions could change in that period of time … ”
This article was posted: Sunday, December 21, 2008 at 6:31 pm