Barack Obama has spent the last month waffling on whether he will stick to his 16-month evacuation plan for Iraq, saying alternately that he will “refine” the policy with input from the commanders or that the commanders will take input from him, once in office. ABC News spoke to the commanders and their officer corps in Iraq and got some input first, and discovered two points Obama hasn’t taken into consideration. Not only do they not want to leave, but if they do, they’d like to take their equipment with them:
The military has been redeploying troops for years, and Maj. Gen. Charles Anderson, who would help with the withdrawal, told us as we toured Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, “We have the capacity to do a minimum of two-and-a-half brigade combat teams a month — can we expand that capacity? Sure. Can we accelerate? It depends. It depends on the amount of equipment that we bring back. And it’s going to depend on how fast we bring them out.”
It is the equipment that is the real problem. …
90 percent of the equipment would have to be moved by ground through the Iraqi war zone, to the port in Kuwait, where it must all be cleaned and inspected and prepared for shipment. This is a place with frequent dust storms, limited port facilities and limited numbers of wash racks.
While Anderson and his troops have a positive attitude, several commanders who looked at the Obama plan told ABC News, on background, that there was “no way” it could work logistically.
This is the kind of information that policy makers usually get before formulating policy. We can rotate troops out of Iraq on the kind of timetable Obama suggests, but we’d have to leave all of our heavy equipment in Iraq. Unless Obama plans some kind of nationwide garage sale, that would be a rather large loss for the American military in materiel as well as making our exit look more like Dunkirk.
Obviously, Obama didn’t have any awareness of logistics when he made this proposal — and that’s the point. His lack of experience, combined with a hubris that he has consistently shown on the campaign trail, makes clear that he is in way over his head at this point of his career. He has no sense of military policy at all, and got the biggest call of the war — the surge — completely wrong. Yet he insists that he’s ready to lead this nation’s military during a time of war as Commander in Chief?
The troops in the field have strong feelings about premature withdrawal under any circumstances. As one soldier put it, pointing to his bulletproof vest, he doesn’t want his children having to wear the same gear in Iraq in 30 years because we (once again) bugged out before the job was finished. When Obama visits Iraq this summer, he will undoubtedly hear plenty of that sentiment — but they will also include a primer on logistics that Obama should have requested long before he started making promises about the pace of withdrawal.
Update: ABC covered this story on Good Morning America — and it gives an even clearer view of the issues at hand:
The biggest question here is — what’s the rush? If casualties drop to zero, then why not take our time and ensure stability?