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Iraq and Afghanistan: Are We Ready for a Ten Year War or Should We Withdraw?

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By John E. Carey
28 September 2006

In the last few days, some knowledgeable and experienced military professions have said that the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could take ten years or more to complete.

At the U.S. Capitol on Monday, September 25, 2006, three retired U.S. military officers appeared before the Democratic Policy Committee of the U.S. Senate to discuss the war in Iraq.

Retired Maj. Gen. John R. S. Batiste, retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton and retired Colonel Colonel Paul X. Hammes painted the picture of a difficult future for the U.S. military in Iraq.

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Hammes, an acknowledged expert in counter insurgency, said we should be prepared for this effort to last "another 10 years."

Hammes said we have been short of troops for three years and that this was a "guaranteed way to lose and insurgency."Hammes said that not providing the best equipment was a "serious moral failure on the part of our leadership."

Generals Batistse and Eaton were in the Army, Hammes is a Marine. All three officers who testified served in Iraq, and Batiste also was senior military assistant to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

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Gen. Batiste told the Senators "We must mobilize our country for a protracted challenge."

Mr. Eaton also said U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "continues to fight this war on the cheap." He also criticized the Congress for not holding bipartisan hearings and for allowing the pentagon to fund the war largely on a series of "supplemental" funding bills instead of a full and honest yearly budget.

The three retired officers also made the point that the United States has never mobilized for this war. "Only about 1 percent of the American population is involved in this thing," one of the three said. The three agreed that each and every government department at the federal level should have a major role to play in the war. Instead, the Defense department at the pentagon has about the only major role.

One of the officers told the committee, "I was shocked to come home to find nobody was involved in this war at home. It is business as usual in the United States."

A government National Intelligence Estimate also became public that concluded the war has helped create a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A Washington Post Editorial this morning said: 'The bad news in the report -- and there is a lot of it -- is that U.S. intelligence agencies believe that the number of Islamic 'jihadists' is growing and that the threat is spreading to more countries, particularly in Europe. The Iraq conflict, it says, 'has become the 'cause celebre' ' for such militants, and 'the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives.' If current trends continue, the report predicts "increasing attacks worldwide."

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All this encourages many to now believe it may be time to plan an execute a withdrawal from Iraq.

The situation in Afghanistan is almost or maybe equally as difficult.

Mark Dodd from The Australian, reporting on the war in Afghanistan, wrote, "In likening the scale of the war to Vietnam, Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said yesterday the Howard Government should start planning for a long mission."

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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.

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