So I got to thinking ... why the combat distinction? What other sorts of "troops" are there? Truck drivers? Driving one of the Legion's trucks has to be one of the more dangerous things you can do in Iraq. A statement from the Obama web site (cited in the AP story) seems to make a comforting suggestion:
Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats ...But then, something a little less warm 'n' fuzzy:
if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.Later on, it gets even more Dubya-esque:
In a March speech, he said: "We will have to make tactical adjustments, listening to our commanders on the ground, to ensure that our interests in a stable Iraq are met, and to make sure that our troops are secure."Ah, yes, the infallible commanders on the ground that the current Decider invokes at the drop of a supplementary funding authorization. I wonder who Obama's Petraeus will be? Don't be too quick to assume it won't be, simply, Petraeus; I have no reason to think that a good, tame, photogenic, political general -- with a Roman-style name, no less -- is all that easy to find. Obama may have to get used to the idea of eating leftovers.
- In June, on MSNBC, he said: "I've also consistently said that I will consult with military commanders on the ground and that we will always be open to the possibility of tactical adjustments."
I also did some math. Obama can get all the combat troops out of Iraq in 16 months, at a "brigade" a month. That must mean there's 16 brigades of combat troops. So, what's a "brigade?" Being a mere softass civilian, I had to do a little research. Fortunately, the internets make that easy:
A brigade is a military unit that is typically composed of two to five regiments or battalions, depending on the era and nationality of a given army. Usually, a brigade is a sub-component of a division, a larger unit consisting of two or more brigades; however, some brigades are classified as a separate brigade and operate independently from the traditional division structure. The typical NATO standard brigade consists of approximately 4,000 to 5,000 troops.Let's suppose St. Obama's talking about a "standard NATO brigade." For 4,000 to 5,000 people, let's use the middle of the range: 4,500. Sixteen times that is 72,000. And we currently have, let's see, something like 140,000 "military personnel" in Iraq, give or take a surge here and there. The result: Obama, the antiwar candidate, the peace candidate, wants to remove half the Americans from Iraq, and he wants to take a year-and-a-half to do it. And that's assuming that the commanders on the ground don't advise him otherwise in the meantime.
Tu - tu - tu - tu - tu - turn to face the strange ... changes ... look out, all you rock-and-rollers ... Oh, yeah.