In the military we find it essential to conduct reviews of actions taken to assess the effectiveness of what we are being asked to do. Without these periodic assessments you may continue down a path that is not taking you to your desired destination. The time has passed for such a review at the strategic policy level for American involvement in Southwest Asia.
On October 16, 2002 President Bush signed into law Resolution 114. This legislation was an authorization for the use of force against Iraq. This was not a declaration of war and it did not give the President unlimited authority in using the military in Iraq and specifically referenced requirements under the War Powers Act.
"(a) Authorization.--The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to--
(1) defend the national security of the United States
against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council
resolutions regarding Iraq."
That is the general context of the invasion. Now, what are the specific goals and objectives required for operations in Iraq to include termination and an end state?
From Wikipedia we have the overall military objectives. The US military uses the name Operation Iraqi Freedom and, according to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the military objectives were:
1. to end the regime of Saddam Hussein.
2. to identify, isolate and eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
3. to search for, to capture and to drive out terrorists from that country.
4. to collect such intelligence as we can related to terrorist networks.
5. to collect such intelligence as we can related to the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction
6. to end sanctions and to immediately deliver humanitarian support to the displaced and to many needy Iraqi citizens.
7. to secure Iraq's oil fields and resources, which belong to the Iraqi people.
8. to help the Iraqi people create conditions for a transition to a representative self-government.
Thursday May 1, 2003, on board the USS Abraham Lincoln, President Bush made the following statement:
Our mission continues. Al Qaeda is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist network still operate in many nations, and we know from daily intelligence that they continue to plot against free people. The proliferation of deadly weapons remains a serious danger. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. Our government has taken unprecedented measures to defend the homeland. And we will continue to hunt down the enemy before he can strike.
In a May 25, 2004 speech the President established five steps in his Iraq planning:
Hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government
Help establish security
Continue rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure
Encourage more international support
Move toward a national election that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people
The first step is complete and the fifth step has been addressed. Steps two three and four as nebulous and open ended.
It is the open ended nature of his statements regarding Iraq, including saying that his successor will address the issue, which create a dangerous problem for the use of military force. Without clear goals and objectives and a defined end state, there can be no timetable for withdrawal. This is the crucial point that the current debate misses. Under the current guidelines we could remove our troops now or in forty years.
If we accept that we are engaged in a Global War on Terrorism, then we must acknowledge that the center of gravity for the enemy is his ideology. Ideology does not depend on countries or geography. It depends on people, communications, and resources. As the President points out in his USS Abraham Lincoln speech the target is Al Quaeda and its sister organizations. These organizations move and act globally, taking years to create incidents in their favor. We can see this analysis clearly in the 911 Commission report.
From Widipedia we have the following casualty estimates:
Summary of casualties of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, possible estimates on the total number of people killed in the invasion and occupation of Iraq vary widely. All estimates below are as of 11 June 2006, and include both the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the following Post-invasion Iraq, 2003-2006.
Iraqi Deaths 30,000-100,000 mostly civilians (The lower figure was given by G. W. Bush in a public speech on December 12, 2005; the higher one comes from the September 2004 Lancet study). Lancet study.
U.S. armed forces 2,500 total deaths, 18,356 combat wounded (8,436 evacuated), plus an unknown number of non-combat injuries. , 
Armed forces of other coalition countries 227 (113 British, 32 Italian, 18 Ukrainian, 17 Polish, 13 Bulgarian, 11 Spanish, 4 Danes, 3 Slovaks, 2 Australians, 2 Dutch, 2 Estonians, 2 Romanians, 2 Thai, 1 Salvadoran, 1 Fijian, 1 Hungarian, 1 Kazakh, 1 Latvian.) , 
Non-Iraqi civilians See Multinational_force_in_Iraq for civilian, journalist and contractor deaths for countries involved in the coalition. Here is an incomplete list of non-Coalition civilian casualties:
Colombia: 1; Croatia: 2; Egypt: 5; Finland: 2; France: 3; Guam: 1; Germany: 1; India: 2; Indonesia: 4; Jordan: 5; Macedonia: 3; Nepal: 19; Sweden: 1; Pakistan: 6; Russia: 4 (in addition to a diplomat killed in June 2006); South Africa: 18; Turkey: 34
In total, at least 568 non-Iraqi individuals have been killed since the 2003 invasion (311 contractors, 87 journalists, 20 media support workers, and 150 aid workers). , , etc
From a professional military standpoint the question is: What are the goals and objectives in Iraq within the context of the Global War on Terrorism? This lack of essential definition is what is leading to increasing discussions by retired generals and admirals in the public forum.
It appears that we are not staying the course; rather we have allowed ourselves to get off course. We must get back on course, now.