Sunday, May 1, 2011

We Won In Iraq - It's Time To Come Home

The agreement negotiated by President George W. Bush with the Iraqi government mandates that our troops leave Iraq by the end of 2011. There has been some talk that we would stay longer if the Iraqis asked, but there is no indication they will invite us to do so. That is as it should be. It's time to come home.

Like many military veterans who served in Iraq, I always felt that Operation Iraqi Freedom was a war that didn't need to be fought while we were still chasing Osama bin Laden all over Afghanistan and Pakistan. Still, my fellow warriors and I did our duty, followed our orders, and defeated the regime of Saddam Hussein. We also killed or captured a lot of Islamic fundamentalist bad guys.

In place of the Sunni dictator, we installed a democratic government that has now been in place for many years. We drew down on our combat forces as the Iraqis built up their army and police. Our training mission continues, but we have forces in place that could respond like a SWAT team to a major problem. We also have advisors who accompany Iraqi units in the field, and those Americans remain in great danger. If any training continues after this year, it can be conducted next door in Kuwait or elsewhere.

The problems that remain in Iraq will be there whether we leave today or twenty years from now. The Sunni versus Shiite religious disagreements existed long before America was created. They will continue to be the greatest issue to face the Iraqi people. Watch radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr and the Mahdi Army - they are the Hamas, Hezbollah, or Muslim Brotherhood of Iraq.

I am proud to have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom with some of the finest soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who ever fought for America. We liberated over twenty-five million people, made many friends among the Iraqis, and gave them a great opportunity to live in a land filled with freedom and opportunity.

The future of Iraq is now in their hands.

Charles M. Grist

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