Friday, September 09, 2011

The Al Qaida Jobs Plan?

President Obama unveiled his latest jobs plan for America last night. There were no real surprises, and critics said Mr Obama's proposal--outlined before a joint session of Congress--was little more than a rehash of policies that have already been tried, but with no appreciable success.

Meanwhile, the administration may be (inadvertently) implementing a jobs program overseas. We refer to this week's announcement for deep troop cuts in Iraq, which could undermine security gains, and put more terrorists back to work. As Fox News reported:

The Obama administration has decided to drop the number of U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of the year down to 3,000, marking a major downgrade in force strength, multiple sources familiar with the inner workings and decisions on U.S. troop movements in Iraq told Fox News..

Senior commanders are said to be livid at the decision, which has already been signed off by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

There are currently about 45,00 U.S. troops in Iraq. Commanders requested a reduction by year's end, but according to Fox, it wasn't enough for the White House. When they suggested a reduction to 10,000 the administration decided the final number would be just 3,000. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has already signed off on the plan, over the objections of senior military officials, who complain the dramatic cutback will leave them unable to meet mission requirements:

"We can't secure everybody with only 3,000 on the ground nor can we do what we need to with the Iraqis," one source said. Another source said the actual total could be as high as 5,000 when additional support personnel are included.

A senior military official said by reducing the number of troops to 3,000, the White House has effectively reduced the mission to training only.

"There is almost no room for security operations in that number; it will be almost purely a training mission," this official said. The official added that a very small number of troops within that 3,000 will be dedicated to counter-terrorism efforts, but that's not nearly what Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, wanted.

It doesn't take a strategist to figure this move is about saving money (and politics), rather than military realities on the ground. Obviously, U.S. forces can't stay in Iraq forever, but commanders clearly want a more gradual withdrawal, to avoid compromising hard-won security gains. Meanwhile, the White House was worried about election-year "optics," and decided to press ahead with the larger reduction.

Which brings us to the jihadi "jobs" factor. Recent reports indicate that Al Qaida in Iraq is down, but certainly not out. But with fewer American troops involved in security operations, the terrorists may have new opportunities to replenish their ranks and increase attacks against U.S. personnel and our Iraqi allies. Iran will reap similar benefits, and will likely ramp up its own terror efforts inside Iraq. So, our "hurry up" plan to exit that country will have the unintended consequence of putting more terrorists back to work.

It's worth noting that August was the first month when the U.S. did not record a single military death in Iraq. That's rather remarkable, and it was a long time coming. Barely five years ago, upwards of 100 U.S. troops were being killed each month in Iraq, as the "surge" took the fight to the terrorists, a move that (ultimately) broke the back of the terrorist network and brought stability to that war-torn country.

It would be nothing sort of tragic to surrender those gains--and give new life to terrorist networks in Iraq--simply for short-term political expediency. But that possibility is quite real, given the administration's haste to get out of Iraq.

1 comment:

Mikey said...

It would be a shame if it turns out the administration is willing to throw away our hard one gains for... what exactly?

3000 troops is about enough to support themselves. I doubt they would be much use in either training or supporting counter terrorist ops. If the administration wants to abandon Iraq they should at least be honest about it and pull everyone out, rather than this death of three thousand cuts.