I get a lot of questions from family and friends these days about my opinion on the troop surge in Iraq and whether it will change events there. Sometimes I get these questions at my American Legion Post, at the VFW or other places where veteran's from other wars tend to gather.... they seek to understand the dynamics and viewpoint apart from the nightly news liberal viewpoints I guess.
Its easy to discuss the pride in a tough job being tackled by our soldiers over there... they are doing incredible work with little other than Defense Department support. The conditions and guidelines are challenging to say the least. If you have scanned my other posts, you already know that I'm not as positive about the Iraqi part of the solution.
We will make progress with the surge - we will restore some order to Baghdad as sought. However we will eventually be required to hand over control to Iraqi security forces and their preparation and desire to uphold the laws and securrity of the country is key to our long term success and departure from Iraq. The Iraqi Security forces are capable of meeting the task, but they must understand the requirements and realistically plan for the work. At the highest level of the government of Iraq, this planning and work effort seems to be lacking either genuine concern or suffers political malfeasance. Prime Minister Maliki must focus his coalition within the government to governing the country without conflicting agenda.... and there lies the real event that should signal our final departure.
At any rate - this being my view - our soldiers will endeavor to train their counterparts concurrent with the political debates in the US and Iraq. The soldiers from both countries will suffer losses in completing their tasks. I was in a similar position a few months ago - frustrated at progress at some levels, but pleased in the face to face encounters with Iraqi soldiers that stood to lose so much more to serve their country. I also saw the conditions and lives of many poor Iraqis that were trying to just exist in the country. Like many soldiers I harbored a sincere desire to make things better for people on the street rather than listen to politicians in both the US and Iraq speak empty rhetoric and crap that prolonged the ordeal. In that vein, I put together a slide show that was my snapshot of what it was like in Iraq then. I assembled this at about the 9 month point of my deployment to Iraq.
I guess that when I'm asked what I think - I'll continue to come up with the positives regarding our soldiers. They have a tough job... support them... I can't say that I can speak as highly for the political processes in play.