What Happens After the Surge?

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The “surge” is about over. This infusion of 30,000 — mostly U.S. Army soldiers that have either been sent to Iraq or had their tours extended in Iraq to 15 months — will end next month. There are simply no more Marines and soldiers to send. By the middle of this summer, the number of U.S. military in Iraq will drop to 130,000 or so. It will take a few months to move the soldiers from Iraq to their bases.

The “surge” which began last February, has been an unqualified military success. The American soldier has made Iraq safer, rebuilt schools, hospitals and infrastructure. The American soldier has taken most of Al Qaeda down (that is the Al Qaeda that showed up after we took the place since there was hardly an Al Qaeda presence before we got there) in the Al Anbar Province, the large area west of Baghdad. This was due in large part to two things: our soldiers and Marines bravery, and our paying the Sunni Tribes to fight for us. At the same time, we have convinced, bribed and threatened Sadr, the leader of the Madhi Army, to not fight. Yes, our guys have done a terrific job, despite some of the poorest military and political leadership in history.

So, what does our military success in Iraq mean exactly? Well, it means that that our military is the best in the world, it means we should be very proud of our men and woman who fight for us, it means that if allowed to do their jobs, our military will always win. These are good things.

Now what exactly does the military success of the surge not mean? The successful surge does not mean "Iraq" is over, or a win, or a democracy. It does mean that Iran (you remember part of the “Axis of Evil”) and Iraq are partners. The Iranian president was just in Iraq, to sign an economic deal worth a billion dollars. China, yes China, is getting a similar deal. Now, I have said this before, but it is worth repeating we did not lose almost 4,000 soldiers and thousands more injured, so that IRAN can sign economic deals with IRAQ!

The surge does not even mean that the borders of Iraq are secure. Why would I say this, you ask? Oh, I don’t know, maybe because TURKEY HAS INVADED IRAQ.

The Turks, have gone after the PKK, a Terrorist/Insurgency Group. Now, let’s get this part straight – have our “friends” the Turks invaded a country we are occupying? Yes, yes and yes. What do you suppose we are doing about this? Nothing. The president of the United States said, “Well they (the Turks) better get it done fast and get out of there.” Yes, sir, sounds like a plan to me. This is not success in Iraq … this is chaos.

It should matter that Americans are still dying in Iraq — but it doesn't appear to affect many of us. It should matter that we are still only faced with two choices, politically: stay the course, vote for McCain; get out now vote for Obama or Clinton. How about we vote for fighting smarter, better and harder.

So now to the title of this article. What happens after the surge? The one institution that is working in Iraq is the Iraqi military; it is getting better.

Once we get out act together politically and figure out what to do in Iraq, it will be up to the Iraqi military to act as the lynch pin, the back stop to whichever Iraqi government shows up. Iraq will look like Thailand or Pakistan or Indonesia, a government really being run by the military, corruption everywhere. Oh, and Iran will have enormous clout. This is clearly not the “democracy” we have been talking about, but it is the best we can “hope” for, considering our many mistakes like not letting our military do its job, like not talking to the tribes, like letting Iran gain so much influnce, it is probably the only working solution available.

We will be getting back the 30,000 soldiers that have been “surging.” Those heroes return with pride to their families, families who suffer what all soldier’s family suffer, the unknown and the absence of those deployed. The soldiers come home with wounds both physical and emotional. They endure with tired bodies, but at least for them this part of the war is over … for now. The soldiers have learned the hard lessons of war. I wonder if the rest of us have been paying attention.

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Colonel David Hunt, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a FOX News military analyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller They Just Don’t Get It. He has extensive operational experience in counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence operations. He has trained the FBI and Special Forces in counterterrorism tactics, served as the security adviser to six different Olympic Games, testified as an expert at many major terrorist trials, and lectured at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. You can read his complete bio here.