I’m finally getting to FoxNews Sunday. General Richard Myers said last week, concerning the length of time that US troops will be in Iraq:
“About as far as we’re looking is through the next couple of years.”
He clarifies on the show that he was referring to planning purposes, and that timing would clearly depend upon events. He won’t commit to anything, but he does say that keeping at least 100,000 troops through the end of 2004 is a “fair statement.”
Personally, I think we’ll have troops there for decades. Not fighting or occupying (hopefully), but based there permanently. There’s been a lot of talk about ending our permanent bases in Germany, and Poland has been noted to be a possible replacement. That would make a certain amount of sense.
However, I honestly expect that we’ll reach some sort of agreement for permanent basing of an Army division (or two) and significant Air Force units in Iraq. This will be partly to ensure stability of the new Iraqi government. But it will mostly be for our purposes.
We now have a great forward base in the Middle East. If we need to project our military might into, say, Syria or Iran, we won’t have to try and wrangle flyover rights or permits to pass troops through Iraq. That’s a pretty safe bet.
Maybe, instead of permanently basing large numbers of troops and planes in Iraq, we’ll simply get some bases ready for operations and pre-position most of the heavy equipment. Considering the situation and likely situation in the foreseeable future, I think we’re going to have permanent troops there.
Of course, this won’t make a lot of folks happy. But we’re at war, no matter how hard some try to pretend that we’re not, and we’ll do whatever has to be done to continue prosecuting the war in the manner that gives us the best chance for success.