Many of you might remember this:
During his recent trip to Iraq, Robert Gates met with a group of soldiers all of whom strongly favored a force increase in Baghdad. Skeptics like me had the funny feeling that this group of soldiers may have been hand-picked by an advance team to show the troop's support for a "surge". Whether this is the case or not, the views expressed by the soldiers at that intimate Friday breakfast are not representative of the majority of the troops on the ground.
A story of the AP wire reads, "Many Soldiers Say Troop Surge a Bad Idea". Here's some of the highlights:
Many of the American soldiers trying to quell sectarian killings in Baghdad don't appear to be looking for reinforcements. They say the temporary surge in troop levels some people are calling for is a bad idea.
In dozens of interviews with soldiers of the Army's 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment as they patrolled the streets of eastern Baghdad, many said the Iraqi capital is embroiled in civil warfare between majority Shiite Muslims and Sunni Arabs that no number of American troops can stop.
Others insisted current troop levels are sufficient and said any increase in U.S. presence should focus on training Iraqi forces, not combat.
But their more troubling worry was that dispatching a new wave of soldiers would result in more U.S. casualties, and some questioned whether an increasingly muddled American mission in Baghdad is worth putting more lives on the line.
While some of the troops supported the idea of a surge, most painted a very bleak picture of what's happening in Baghdad right now.
Spc. Don Roberts, who was stationed in Baghdad in 2004, said the situation had gotten worse because of increasing violence between Shiites and Sunnis.
"I don't know what could help at this point," said Roberts, 22, of Paonia, Colo. "What would more guys do? We can't pick sides. It's almost like we have to watch them kill each other, then ask questions."
Based in Fort Lewis, Wash., the battalion is part of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division. Deployed in June, its men were moved to Baghdad from Mosul in late November to relieve another Stryker battalion that had reached the end of its tour.
"Nothing's going to help. It's a religious war, and we're caught in the middle of it," said Sgt. Josh Keim, a native of Canton, Ohio, who is on his second tour in Iraq. "It's hard to be somewhere where there's no mission and we just drive around."
Sgt. Justin Thompson, a San Antonio native, said he signed up for delayed enlistment before the Sept. 11 terror attacks, then was forced to go to a war he didn't agree with.
A troop surge is "not going to stop the hatred between Shia and Sunni," said Thompson, who is especially bitter because his 4-year contract was involuntarily extended in June. "This is a civil war, and we're just making things worse. We're losing. I'm not afraid to say it."
The gist of this article is that many of our troops are much closer to John Murtha on Iraq than they are to George Bush. Many would rather have the US pull out rather than escalate the conflict. The "ground truth" is that many of our troops believe the mission is futile; that we are doing more harm than good at this point.
If it is indeed the case that the Gates pow-wow with the troops was a set up then Bush's listening sessions and consultations have been a charade. The photo op would then be an early roll out of the surge strategy. The meeting would have been staged as a way to implant the idea that our troops are calling for more support in the mind of the public. My feeling is that the surge is not widely supported in the military establishment. It's becoming clearer and clearer that the idea is coming from the top. It’s obviously cover for those who have invested so much political capital in this war. The democrats must speak out against this escalation. We need to leave Iraq. Iraq is lost. We don't need to sacrifice more American lives so that our leaders can try one more face saving Hail Mary pass.