21 January 2008

I've got just one comment

on tonight's Democratic debate in South Carolina.

This idea of taking all the "combat troops" out of Iraq scares the beejesus out of me.

From John Edwards:

And I have said in the first year that I am president, I will have all combat troops out of Iraq. All combat missions will end in Iraq, and there will be no permanent military bases in Iraq.

From Barack Obama:
...what I have said, and I've said repeatedly, is I want to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in, but I want to make sure that we get all our combat troops out as quickly as we can safely. Now, the estimates are maybe that's two brigades per month. At that pace it would be some time in 2009 that we had our combat troops out, depending on whether Bush follows through on his commitment to draw down from the surge.

Both of these gentlemen are big on the idea of removing "combat troops." Neither of them are stupid, so that tells me they recognize that some troops will remain.

Just not combat ones.

Well, you know...from a personal perspective...I would really not prefer to be one of those non-combat troops wandering around Iraq when the combat ones go home.

I say this personally, with tongue in cheek, but think about it. Who on earth thinks that we should leave any sort of military presence in that country without a robust, viable and potent offensive force to protect that presence and its mission?

My personal image when I hear this is of a civil affairs team, in some tiny little town way out in the boondocks, counting how many houses have running water. And when something goes bad...although that team has some medium machine guns and is comprised of soldiers...it's not many people and the guns aren't very big.

When you're doing that kind of work, it's real nice to know there's a rifle company or a tank platoon close enough to come to the rescue.

But it's not about my anecdote, it's about reality. We do not leave an unspecified number of "non-combat troops" in a real dangerous country with some vague mission and bring all the gunslingers home. That's a recipe for disaster.

These gentlemen are either:
A - lying to pander to their base
B - fools

Mrs. Clinton weaseled hard on the question, but at least she didn't pick a theme that would baffle any thinking person.

From Hillary Clinton:
It is not going to be easy. Withdrawing troops is dangerous. That's why I've been working to make sure that we knew all of the various steps we would have to take, because it's not just bringing our troops and equipment home. We have more than 100,000 civilians there, working for the embassy, working for businesses, working for charities.

All quotes lifted from the second page of the CNN transcript, about three quarters of the way down. Love her or hate her, I think she "gets" the situation as it really is.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm not saying a whole lot about this contest, but I am going to go ahead and point it out when potential commanders in chief says things that could put my comrades' butts in a sling.