Military efforts to prolong the Iraq occupation

Pentagon leaders and US military officials have made it clear that they do not plan to adhere to the recently signed US-Iraq withdrawal agreement.

In what Investigative journalist Gareth Porter describes [A1] as an act of "open defiance [to] an agreement which the US military has never accepted," senior military officials have orchestrated deliberate leaks and statements aimed at reclassifying combat troops as support troops.

The semantic shift would leave Obama in a bind as he himself has advocated the withdrawal of "combat" troops while leaving "support" troops and advisors behind.

Pentagon planners proposed relabeling "combat" units to "training and support" units and projected that as there could be between 30,000 to 50,000 American troops in Iraq "for a substantial time even beyond 2011," the New York Times reported[A2] .

Richard Danzig, one of Obama’s national security advisers, similarly speculated during the campaign that there could be between 30,000 and 55,000 troops remaining in Iraq.

General Ray Odierno, commander of forces in Iraq, along with CENTCOM commander Gen. Petraeus lead the opposition to the current US-Iraq withdrawal plans and were also both staunch supporters of the "surge."

Bob Woodward [A3] revealed that the surge was opposed by both of the top Iraq commanders at the time Gen. Casey and Gen. Abizaid, Gen. Shoomaker, the Army Chief of Staff, and Gen. pace and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

All of these generals were forced into early retirement or replaced with the more like-minded Odierno and Petraeus.

Similarly, the current Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who helped author the Iraq Study Group report also opposed the surge, that is, until he supported it.

In fact, Gates was chosen[A4]  by Bush precisely because he supported the escalation of troops in opposition to Rumsfeld, who was starting to turn around on the war and advocating a drawdown of troops, retired senior CIA analyst Ray McGovern wrote.

McGovern, whom Gates worked under at one point in the CIA, considers him to be "as bad as Rumsfeld" for his unprincipled ambition and subservience to authority[A5] .

Gates also has a sordid history as the head of the CIA during Bush I administration, which invaded Panama, supported the brutal regime in Guatemala, back the vicious dictator Suharto in Indonesia, and overthrew the democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, Matthew Rothschild [A6] wrote.

"With the Gates choice, Obama proves he’s not about ending the U.S. empire," Rothschild concluded.  "He’s about running the U.S. empire—with less bravado than Bush-Cheney, but perhaps more efficiently."


For more on Odierno, whose aggressive tactics "few US military commanders or soldiers have much good to say about," read this Guardian article. In it are allegations that Odierno’s command of the "4th Infantry Division helped create the insurgency" as well as an unnamed general who said "The 4th ID – what they did was a crime."

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