I have been doing radio interviews all day regarding the ABC News report that the Pentagon was considering writing the Al Anbar province off and moving troops – mostly Marines – to quell the violence in Baghdad.
That simply cannot and should not happen. There’s no doubt that something has to be done about the sectarian strife in Baghdad that is reaching unparalleled levels. But the fight in the Al Anbar province that encompasses the desert region west of Baghdad in cities like Fallujah and Ramadi is against a living, breathing, determined enemy that is largely compromised of Al Qaeda. If we drop the mission there – which is to suppress the security threat and hand it off to Iraqi Forces to takeover – then what is the point of being in Iraq in the first place?
In talking with numerous military sources close to the Pentagon, they all conclude that this is not a serious consideration or one that they have heard being discussed. And it is my sense that the White House is not aware of any plans to write off the province either.
Major Dan Whisnant, Commanding Officer of Alpha Company, 1/24, told me in an interview recently that “95% of the insurgency is Al Qaeda in Iraq.” And every time I headed out on patrol with those brave Marines, they were winning the fight against that insurgency. There were setbacks and there will be more setbacks, but the guys on the ground aren’t writing anything off – and to the contrary, they are actually making progress.
In the larger scheme of things, I remind people of the email I got yesterday from Lt Col. Salas who said that we can win – only we can’t win on military success alone. The economic and political elements have to come into play and hopefully President Bush will be successful in conveying that message to Prime Minister Maliki in Jordan.
It would be an insult to the memory of brave Marines like Sgt. Tommy Gilbert and Lncpl. Jonathan Thornsberry who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for a mission they believed in if we abandoned the mission in Al Anbar before it is completed. If that were to happen, then how would you answer the question of “Was it worth my son’s life?”
Lt Col. Salas also said, “Marines always fight to win.”
Semper Fidelis, ABC News!
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