General says Marines can pull out of Iraq within months
By Megan Scully CongressDaily January 23, 2009
Marine Corps Commandant James Conway said Friday that the time is right to pull the force of roughly 23,000 Marines out of Iraq, a task he estimated could be done in months.
"We've been steadily removing equipment from theater on a not-as-needed basis and we've been fairly successful doing that," the four-star general said. "So, the timeline, we think today, is down to six to eight months to get the rest of our equipment out of Iraq."
The Marines' departure from Iraq would coincide with plans to augment U.S. forces in Afghanistan, where Conway said he feels Marines could quell a growing insurgency. The mission in Iraq, Conway said, is largely focused on nation building.
"Where you have a nation-building effort essentially taking place ... and a building fight taking place in another locale, that's really where Marines" belong, Conway said.
The Obama administration has not finalized its strategy for Afghanistan, but Conway said he expects decisions soon. "With the speed in which we see other decisions being made, I think it's fair to say that it won't be long before we think that we have a plan," he said, adding later that President Obama may meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on defense issues next week. Conway made it clear he does not want to maintain a residual Marine Corps force in Iraq because doing so would stress his heavily deployed force.
"We are asking that ... when the door slams on Marines in Iraq that all Marines be on the other side of the door," he said. "We don't want to leave and have our training teams and our border transition teams and other Marines involved with Iraq at that point because, once again, it's not what we do and, secondly, we need those Marines elsewhere." The only exception may be some Marines training and advising the Iraqi military, Conway said.
Meanwhile, Conway said he hopes to send no more than 20,000 additional Marines to Afghanistan. A larger force would hinder the service's efforts to increase time between seven-month deployments to 14 months to give troops more time with their families and also for amphibious, mountain and cold-weather training exercises that have fallen by the wayside during the last several years at war, Conway said.
Jason finally has his blog up and running. It is called, most appropriately, Fussing and Fighting, and can be found at http://www.fussingandfighting.wordpress.com/. Blogspot is better. Jason, where the hell even are you? No profile? Is it really you? Nice photo though: the books. Better than jammies and slippers on campus, and all the slouchy shite that comes along with that.
Anyway, check out the blog, support the Luddite.