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View Full Version : Last U.S. Combat Brigade Leaves Iraq



xSnoofovich
19-08-2010, 18:14
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703649004575438210063921610.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLETopStories

As their convoy reached the barbed wire at the border crossing out of Iraq on Wednesday, the soldiers whooped and cheered. Then they scrambled out of their stifling hot armored vehicles, unfurled an American flag and posed for group photos.

For these troops of the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, it was a moment of relief fraught with symbolism. Seven years and five months after the U.S.-led invasion, the last American combat brigade was leaving Iraq, as President Obama's Aug. 31 deadline for ending U.S. combat operations there neared.

When 18-year-old Spc. Luke Dill first rolled into Iraq as part of the U.S. invasion, his Humvee was so vulnerable to bombs that the troops lined its floor with flak jackets.

Now 25 and a staff sergeant after two tours of duty, he rode out of Iraq this week in a Stryker, an eight-wheeled behemoth encrusted with armor and add-ons to ward off grenades and other projectiles.

"It's something I'm going to be proud of for the rest of my life the fact that I came in on the initial push and now I'm leaving with the last of the combat units," he said.

He remembered three straight days of mortar attacks outside the city of Najaf in 2003, so noisy that after the firing ended, the silence kept him awake at nights. He recalled the night skies over the northern city of Mosul being lit up by tracer bullets from almost every direction.

Now, waiting for him back in Olympia, Wash., is the "Big Boy" Harley-Davidson he purchased from one of the motorcycle company's dealerships at U.S. bases in Iraq a vivid illustration of how embedded the American presence has become since the invasion of March 20, 2003.

That presence is far from over. Scatterings of combat troops still await departure, and some 50,000 will stay another year in what is designated as a noncombat role. They will carry weapons to defend themselves and accompany Iraqi troops on missions (but only if asked). Special forces will continue to help Iraqis hunt for terrorists.

So the U.S. death toll at least 4,415 by Pentagon count as of Wednesday may not yet be final.

The Stryker brigade, based in Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state and named for the vehicle that delivers troops into and out of battle, has lost 34 troops in Iraq. It was at the forefront of many of the fiercest battles, including operations in eastern Baghdad and Diyala province, an epicenter of the insurgency, during "the surge" of 2007. It evacuated troops at the battle of Tarmiyah, an outpost where 28 out of 34 soldiers were wounded holding off insurgents.

Before the Aug. 31 deadline, about half the brigade's 4,000 soldiers flew out like most of the others leaving Iraq, but its leadership volunteered to have the remainder depart overland. That decision allowed the unit to keep 360 Strykers in the country for an extra three weeks.

U.S. commanders say it was the brigade's idea, not an order from on high. The intent was to keep additional firepower handy through the "period of angst" that followed Iraq's inconclusive March 7 election, said brigade chief, Col. John Norris.

It took months of preparation to move the troops and armor across more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) of desert highway through potentially hostile territory.

The Strykers left the Baghdad area in separate convoys over a four-day period, traveling at night because the U.S.-Iraq security pact and security worries limit troop movements by day.

Along the way, phalanxes of American military Humvees sat at overpasses, soldiers patrolled the highways for roadside bombs, and Apache attack helicopters circled overhead as the Strykers refueled alongside the highway.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Gus McKinney, a brigade intelligence officer, acknowledged that moving the convoys overland put soldiers at risk, but said the danger was less than in past.

The biggest threat was roadside bombs planted by Shiite extremist groups who have a strong foothold in the south, Chief Warrant Officer McKinney said.

But except for camels straying into the road, and breakdowns that required some vehicles to be towed, there were no incidents.

The worst of the ride was conditions inside the Strykers sitting for hours in a cramped space and the temperatures outside that reached 50 Celsius (120 Fahrenheit).

The driver's compartment is called the "hellhole" because it sits over the engine and becomes almost unbearably hot. The vehicle commander and gunner can sit up in hatches to see the outside world. At the tail end are hatches for two gunners. Eight passengers an infantry squad in combat conditions can squeeze in the back.

When the convoy finally reached the sandy border, two soldiers, armed and helmeted, jumped off their vehicle and raced each other into Kuwait.

Once out of Iraq, there was still work to be done. Vehicles had to be stripped of ammunition and spare tires, and eventually washed and packed for shipment home.

Meanwhile, to the north, insurgents kept up a relentless campaign against the country's institutions and security forces, killing five Iraqi government employees in roadside bombings and other attacks Wednesday. Coming a day after a suicide bomber killed 61 army recruits in central Baghdad, the latest violence highlighted the shaky reality left by the departing U.S. combat force and five months of stalemate over forming Iraq's next government.

For Spc. Dill, who reached Kuwait with an earlier convoy, the withdrawal engendered feelings of relief. His mission to get his squad safely out of Iraq was accomplished.

Standing alongside a hulking Stryker, his shirt stained with sweat, he acknowledged the men who weren't there to experience the day with him.

"I know that to my brothers in arms who fought and died, this day would probably mean a lot, to finally see us getting out of here," he said.

ReallyGreatConcerts
19-08-2010, 18:40
Apart from the 50,000 troops who are staying.

And the entire army of Blackwater personnel.

What a cracking success it's all been though, eh?

I mean they... well... ummm.. errrr...

... well, the PR guys will be back to you later on what was achieved.

Carbo
19-08-2010, 18:48
Can we just, for a moment, give Obama some credit here?

I mean, he's done what he said he would do.

Hopefully, the Iraqi security forces will be up to the task, and the country won't descend into civil war, or fall prey to extremists and/or Iran.

Scrat335
19-08-2010, 18:57
Obama did reduce the numbers Carbo as he said we would do, it's only a half measure. I doubt we will ever leave that country. The minute we do it will revert to civil war is my bet.

Carbo
19-08-2010, 19:02
Obama did reduce the numbers Carbo as he said we would do, it's only a half measure. I doubt we will ever leave that country. The minute we do it will revert to civil war is my bet.

Well, that's the problem I see. Is it more moral to leave now, risking civil war, or continue our presence?

Gypsy
19-08-2010, 19:16
Well, that's the problem I see. Is it more moral to leave now, risking civil war, or continue our presence?

Leaving is the lesser of the evils created when US/Uk invaded.

This situation was predictable and indeed predicted before the original invasion. But Bush/Blair had no plan for what would happen after the "victory" other than dividing up the oil exploration and exploitation licenses.

I think GWB was so stupid that he actually believed that the Iraqi people would be grateful and submit to the US form of "democracy". He was a moron, Blair is intelligent enough to know differently, and was certainly so advised.

So, how do we hold them accountable for what they have done?

Carbo
19-08-2010, 19:24
Leaving is the lesser of the evils created when US/Uk invaded.

This situation was predictable and indeed predicted before the original invasion. But Bush/Blair had no plan for what would happen after the "victory" other than dividing up the oil exploration and exploitation licenses.

I think GWB was so stupid that he actually believed that the Iraqi people would be grateful and submit to the US form of "democracy". He was a moron, Blair is intelligent enough to know differently, and was certainly so advised.

So, how do we hold them accountable for what they have done?
Two ways: the Haag route, or, in the case of senior members of the Bush Administration, such as Adlington, Yoo, Feith and further up, breaking US constitutional law -- which they undoubtedly did.

Scrat335
19-08-2010, 19:44
Screw morality, was it moral to go there? Was it moral to place sanctions of them in the 90s killing babies as a result? Don't forget, we put Saddam in power. Was that a moral act? Morality is just a word.

What we need to do is let them find their own way, that's the right way to do things. With time they will stabilize and change their ways, here in America we have our own problems, we don't have the means to solve other peoples problems.

waxyweller
19-08-2010, 21:58
Can anyone confirm if all the troops went back home to the states ? my friend said his brother and others left Iraq for Kuwait:fudd: another war there maybe ! is it true ? i was congratulating him when i saw this post ,but it turned out he still wasn't happy (( :7525:

TolkoRaz
19-08-2010, 22:01
Most will roulement via Kuwait or other places such as Qatar

They need to 'acclimatise' for several days before returning to 'civilisation'!

xSnoofovich
19-08-2010, 22:27
And the entire army of Blackwater personnel.



Blackwater, xe, is in a bad place ! i will post about it tomorrow...

TolkoRaz
19-08-2010, 22:36
Ooooooooooooh, I can't wait! ;)

Swordfish90293
19-08-2010, 22:43
So the original fear, that of a destabilized country in a region on the edge, returns...

TolkoRaz
19-08-2010, 22:46
If Iran increases its meddling in Iraq after US Forces have left, it gives the US yet another reason for striking at Iran!

waxyweller
20-08-2010, 00:16
If Iran increases its meddling in Iraq after US Forces have left, it gives the US yet another reason for striking at Iran!

The US can't invade Iran for any reason, there are thousands of terrorists there , but Ahmadinejad doesn't allow the US to make any base in his country,cus he wants to be left alone with his country after seeing all the war crimes the US soldiers committed in Iraq and Afgh.:5387: .. like he said, He said the United states doesn't have any right to remain in Iraq after capturing Saddam ,its breach of international law and jurisprudence bla bla .. :devilish:

TolkoRaz
20-08-2010, 00:18
Yep you are right waxyweller, Iran is indeed run by a terrorist! ;)

Carbo
21-08-2010, 04:23
A letter to a blog I read from a Col. Andrew Berdy, U.S. Army (ret.):


Can you explain to me how, or why, the myth of "all combat troops out of Iraq" is allowed to be perpetuated by the press, much less our senior military leadership? Yes, the mission has changed. But units like my son's Stryker Brigade (not the one that just left!) are, and always will be, combat infantry units.

This is fiction pure and simple. I just don't get how the nation has swallowed this and why members of the media are not reporting facts the way they are rather than the political PR message the Administration wants portrayed. Does anyone not think that the likelihood of continued combat operations is a reality? When casualties are taken by these "non-combat forces" will those casualties be characterized as "non-combat" as well? Does the public not understand that the secondary mission of our remaining forces is to be prepared to conduct combat operations either to defend themselves or to support Iraqi forces if requested? And when these train and assist "non-combat" units have to engage in, dare I say, combat operations, what will the Administration say then?

I can tell you, as a former brigade commander responsible for securing and helping to rebuild Port-au-Prince, Haiti, while we went in prepared for battle, and quickly transitioned to peacekeeping/nation building, there was never a moment that my infantry brigade was not prepared to conduct combat operations (which did occur late in the deployment) and there was never a moment when we were anything but a combat force. I suspect if you ask those troopers on the ground now they would agree with me and take incredible umbrage with what is being trumpeted on TV and in the press.

Gypsy
21-08-2010, 05:30
So the original fear, that of a destabilized country in a region on the edge, returns...
When did it leave?

Iraq was stable before the invasion. The regime was loathsome, but the country was stable.

Was that not why Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein were so close: for providing stability in the region?

18524

Or was it simply because he bought a shed load of American chemical and biological weapons? I forget.

yakspeare
21-08-2010, 07:20
i was offered a job in Iraq this year and there are forum members who have just left there. i can tell you this, that all contractors(ie Blackwater etc) numbers are also dropping and have been throughout the year with a lot of the other contracts expiring in january and won't be renewed...the pay has also been reduced(though still very high) so it is pretty clear that everything is winding down.

as for carbo's post...really the man is upset about the term combat soldier...in every military everyone except medics is technically a combat solider...even if you are a cook or a cleaner or whatever....and they would have supporting guard personnel and people who transport them from site to site. so it can be quite true that all combat forces(the brigades designated for fighting) have left while still armed men are on the ground.

Russian Lad
21-08-2010, 15:59
From what I read in other sources the US army is unlikely to leave Iraq before 2020, and even that is a big question mark, so it is mostly a political move from Obama: "Hey, people, we are withdrawing as I promised." Besides, who will guard all the oil rigs there?:) It looks to me it will be a continuous occupation, till the US loses its hegemon power or till some new sources of energy are in place.

Gypsy
21-08-2010, 21:30
From what I read in other sources the US army is unlikely to leave Iraq before 2020, and even that is a big question mark, so it is mostly a political move from Obama: "Hey, people, we are withdrawing as I promised." Besides, who will guard all the oil rigs there?:) It looks to me it will be a continuous occupation, till the US loses its hegemon power or till some new sources of energy are in place.
I think Obama is genuinely trying to extricate the US from the deep sh1t Bush/Cheney and Rice left them in. How long it will take we don't know - I'd favour a much faster withdrawal even at the cost of civil war because that will happen anyway, but he has the chattering classes to keep onside so will probably take longer.

ReallyGreatConcerts
21-08-2010, 22:21
I think Obama is genuinely trying to extricate the US from the deep sh1t Bush/Cheney and Rice left them in. How long it will take we don't know - I'd favour a much faster withdrawal even at the cost of civil war because that will happen anyway, but he has the chattering classes to keep onside so will probably take longer.


Back during his election campaign he talked about repairing the damage to the USA's international reputation. I wonder when he's going to start on that?

He's utterly failed on his promise to close Gitmo - something which makes him look like either an impotent ***** or more likely that he doesn't care... considering that on his watch the Bagram Secret Prison has mushroomed in capacity. There is no information about how many people are people held there, or in what conditions. But considering they keep building new sections, we have to assume they're not empty.

If that was Russia, and Medvedev said "we're closing this prison", it would be closed by 8pm the same evening.