2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Iraq - Mission Complete(?)

Well, apparently its just about all over in Iraq.  the POTUS had a speech at Ft. Bragg yesterday and SOD Leon Panetta was in Baghdad to oversea that final official act of US involvement in the War on Terror in that county with the official retiring of the US Forces colors in a ceremony. Officially the operations were called Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation New Dawn (after September 1, 2010), but for most people its just called "The Iraq War". Overall I have mixed feelings.  On one hand I am overjoyed that no more wives, mother or fathers will have to endure a casualty officer coming to their doors with the worst of tidings from that country.  On the other hand I wonder what exactly we did there?

We invaded a sovereign nation in 2003 under the pretense that they were harboring both terrorists and chemical and biological weapons.  Form what I have read about Sadaam Hussein he would not of been above harboring radical Islamic terrorists for the right price, but the presence of them in his country would of been a direct threat against his fairly secular government (even those the minority Sunni population were the majority of member in the ruling Ba'ath party over the larger Shiite population).  Whether they did or did not inhabit the country before the invasion they certainly were a presence once we invaded. Al Quaeda formed several cells in Iraq in a campaign of terror to divide the country, target US troops and Iraqi civilians and commit acts of murder in order to generate media attention.  One such series of acts were well publicized beheadings of foreign nationals captured, most notoriously that of businessman Nick Berg.  After the ouster of Sadaam there was a great rise of Sunni vs. Shia violence as local areas formed militias and pitted them against each other and the US troops as well. 

The issue of chemical weapons has never fully been cleared, but it does seem that whatever HUMINT (human intelligence, basically first or second hand knowledge from a spy or informer) sources were used to come to the conclusion that weapons were present were either woefully outdated or was given in order to try and reach some type of other ending.  I can say that if I was a drug dealer and the DEA came to me and said that they would be inspecting my illegal drugs the following week and to please have them on a table laid out for discovery...well, by the next week I might just take care of that problem.  Such was the nature of the UN inspection teams under Hans Brix.  Iraq has a big desert in it, lots of places to hide and bury stuff.   Hell, the Iraqi's decided to bury their air force for crying out loud to avoid destruction at the hands of the US!! So this type of disposal would not of been out of the realm of possibility for them.

Not a WMD, but you get the idea...

Anyway, the war was very expensive.  How expensive?  Lets take a look....
  • 4,802 coalition forces killed in action..including 4,487 US personnel (source: http://www.defense.gov/news/casualty.pdf).  This does not include those service members that succumbed to PTSD and other mental illness as a result and killed themselves post service.
  • Officially the number of Wounded personnel is 32,226, but this only included Hostile actions..the number of personnel treated and reported is much higher, this I know first hand from working in CASOPS in 2006-07.
  • The was has cost an estimated $1 Trillion dollars...yes, TRILLION, according to the POTUS.
  • The POTUS also claimed 60,000+ Iraqis were killed...I believe this to be a very conservative estimate.

All of this adds up.  There is no price you can put on the emotional cost to both families and the country for wounds suffered during this conflict.  We have expended a huge amount of both monetary and human capital in conducting these operations and I often find myself asking "why?".  We have worked hard to form a democratic government to rule that country with the Iraqis but have run into many issues...sectarian squabbling, corruption, external influences from the region and otherwise.  We finally seem to have them on the right track, but for how long?  The US presence in the country will be down to a diplomatic corp and support personnel, to include some US Marines as embassy guards as well as some other contracted security personnel as well.  The remaining US military forces are working towards a total withdrawl from the country, as the Iraqi government will not budge on provisions to allow US forces to be exempt from trial by Iraqi courts in the future.  Our troops are preparing to make one last series of convoys to Kuwait to end our presence there...even then they will not be allowed to lower their guard..
So basically the Iraqis will be on their own.  Hopefully the training they have gotten from US forces has been enough to get them ready for what lies ahead.  Somehow though I think they may have their hands full...

OK, that's a cheap shot, here's another....

OK, seriously..there are Iraqis that want a peaceful and progressive future for them and their country.  I wish them well in their endeavors.  Its been pointed out that as a young nation the US went through a period of several decades to finally solidify as a country, to include taking a decade to adopt our Constitution.

To the men and women of the coalition forces that served in Iraq, and especially those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, I salute you.  I do believe that what you worked for has made a difference in the the lives of people in the region and around the globe. 
In an age when China seems to be rapidly building their armed forces I am reminded of how the US went into Vietnam as THE major world power, and after 10+ years of sustained operations there came out stretched thin like and facing a Russian military that had used the time we were tied up there to build their military both in terms of quantity and quality.  I guess sometimes we need to learn twice...

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