The following editorial appeared in Newsweek Online, which states the same opinion of Kenneth Stepp, that it's time to get out of Iraq. "Time to Get Out
A retired U.S. Air Force officer and former Middle East planner for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff argues that the only sensible course in Iraq is an immediate withdrawal of most U.S. forces
By Col. Mike Turner
Special to Newsweek
"July 17, 2006 - For those appalled by the Bush Administration's inability to formulate a coherent policy in Iraq, the events of the past few weeks have taken on an ominous significance. It was profoundly disturbing to see the president and senior administration officials so inappropriately giddy over a six-point jump in the Bush's approval rating following the death of Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi. Seasoned warfighters and diplomats understood the purely symbolic nature of that event, and the dramatic rise in sectarian violence last week, including the kidnapping last Saturday of the head of the Iraqi Olympic Committee and at least 30 others, only confirmed fears that the downward spiral into civil war continues unabated. At the same time, the increase in alleged incidents of U.S. atrocities in Iraq suggests that American forces are finding it difficult to maintain strict unit discipline in an increasingly dangerous and deteriorating security environment. And the demands of Iraq have left the White House ill-prepared to deal with the rapidly escalating Israeli-Arab violence in Gaza and Lebanon.
"Given that this debate is so vital, and understanding that, while headlines may come and go, the true dangers of a prolonged war in Iraq will continue, Americans would do well to begin to separate Bush Administration spin from reality. Let's examine three administration myths about the war:
"Myth #1: U.S. forces will be withdrawn when military commanders determine the Iraqis are capable of maintaining their own security. This is utter nonsense, and I would be willing to bet a substantial sum that every military planner in the Pentagon knows it. Karl Rove will determine the timing of any pullout. The Republican Party is terrified of Iraq, and Rove, as the architect of the 2008 GOP presidential campaign strategy, will time the withdrawal of U.S. forces precisely to coincide with that election. That means U.S. forces will be reduced to an "acceptable threshold" sometime during the spring or summer of 2008. The key for Rove will be to draw down U.S. troop levels to a size that's small enough to plausibly say the U.S. is getting out, while still large enough to maintain some semblance of control over Iraq. Put more succinctly, the war is now being fought to try to ensure a Republican victory in November of 2008. While this seems both obscene and outrageous, one need only watch the drawdown schedule evolve. My bet is that the critical threshold will be 20-50,000 troops in country by the summer of 2008.
Myth #2: There are now 260,000 trained Iraqi troops. In 1997, I worked for the State Department on the development of a pan-African force of five battalions trained to sustain peacekeeping operations throughout sub-Saharan Africa. In coordination with the commander of the 5th Special Forces Group, we developed a five-year initial training schedule, which we felt was sufficient to adequately train and maintain a force of about 3,000 African troops for light peacekeeping operations. That's five years to train 3,000 troops for basic duties. Compare this, then, to the Bush administration's continuing claim that we have now "trained" 260,000 Iraqi troops for what will inevitably be brutal, sustained and autonomous urban combat operations. A few weeks ago Gen. Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided the real answer. He was asked, pointedly, by a member of Congress, not how many Iraqi forces had been "trained" but how many were capable of sustained, independent operations throughout Iraq today. His answer? None. And it's been three years. Pay attention, America. If the president is serious about leaving U.S. troops in Iraq until they are capable of maintaining their own security, our grandchildren will be fighting there.
"Myth #3: Our only options are "stay the course" or "cut and run." Given the remarkably inept foreign policy initiatives of the neo-conservatives during the past five years, Americans need to demand a more substantive debate surrounding a war that has now cost the lives of over 2,500 servicemen and women. We should seriously consider a rational and immediate drawdown of American troops to a level that is both sustainable and tolerable. Congressman John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who supported the war and now calls for a U.S. withdrawal, is right—the American presence in Iraq is now doing far more harm than good. With the alleged massacre in Haditha and the alleged atrocities committed by U.S. soldiers, we have now begun to see the first real danger signs of a military occupation force stuck in a war with no clear mission, ineffective civilian leadership, and no way out. We must begin now to dramatically reduce the number of U.S. forces in Iraq. As that drawdown begins, we must develop a strategy to retain a minimal force in country to secure Baghdad's Green Zone and to enable U.S. Special Forces advisors to embed within Iraqi security units for training and monitoring. Finally, we must get this war out of the press and rely heavily on Special Forces counterinsurgency operations supported by external, conventional air forces to undermine the insurgents and support the new Iraqi government. This was precisely the type of operation that ultimately defeated Abu Mussab al Zarqawi, a butcher whose rise to prominence can be traced directly to the ill-conceived U.S. invasion.
"There can be no doubt that a likely outcome of an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq might be a complete collapse of that country into chaos. Yet remaining in Iraq and trusting the future conduct of the war to an administration that badly bungled this operation from the beginning and has no coherent plan for remaining is irresponsible. I believe there is a way to mount an effective war in Iraq that greatly reduces the risk to U.S. forces and U.S. national security while retaining a reasonable possibility for a measure of success. However, I do not think that the present administration is capable of either acknowledging its failures or rethinking its strategy to the extent necessary to achieve such a limited victory. For that reason, I'm left with a simple solution—let's save as many U.S. lives as possible and get out now."
"Turner is a 24-year Air Force veteran and former fighter pilot and air rescue helicopter pilot. He is a military analyst and commentator who spent seven years serving in U.S. Central Command and the Pentagon as a Middle East/Africa planner."
Vote for Kenneth Stepp. Vote "NO" on Hal Rogers. It's time for a change. It's time for U.S. troops to get out of Iraq. A vote for Kenneth Stepp is a vote to get out of Iraq. A vote for Hal Rogers is a vote to keep U.S. troops fighting in Iraq. The 2010 general election is a referendum on whether the United States should keep American troops fighting in Iraq. Vote to bring the troops home; vote for Kenneth Stepp for U.S. House of Representatives for the Kentucky Fifth District.