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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

1,000 More Troops Headed to Iraq

By: Ryan Jaroncyk, THL Contributor

In response to theater commanders on the ground, Defense Secretary Robert Gates approved 1,000 more "combat enablers" to be sent to Iraq last month.

Combat enablers are classified as noncombat troops who specialize in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, explosives disposal, medical and mental health, and personnel administration. 3,000 of these specialized troops will already be sent to Afghanistan as well, independent of General McChrystal's upcoming request for more.

The additional troops in Iraq appear to contradict President Obama's promise to institute a swift, orderly, and substantial withdrawal. Before Obama entered office, approximately 135,000 U.S. troops were stationed in Iraq. Since taking office eight months ago, 131,000 still remain.

The 1,000 troop increase, in addition to the 131,000 troops currently on the ground, also appear to contradict one of the central pillars of the so-called "Democratic mandate". In 2006, Democrats dominated the Congressional elections, and in 2008, Obama swept to power. In each election, Democrats campaigned on exiting the Iraq War in short order.

Three years later, nothing much has changed. The troop increase also appears to contradict President Obama's views on the central importance of Afghanistan. If, as Obama and his administration claim, the Afghanistan War is the focal point of the Global War on Terror, then why not send the extra 1,000 troops to this more crucial theater?

It will be interesting to see if left-leaning voters and media outlets hold President Obama's feet to the fire on these troop increases. For a President and Congress hailed as the antidote to the "warmongering" Republicans, they sure seem to be following in the same footsteps.

So much for that Nobel Peace Prize.

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