Opponents of a sensible Iraq withdrawal strategy have tried to argue that a redeployment is unfeasible either because it will be occur too quickly or because it will take too long.
President Bush argued that “precipitous withdrawal from Iraq is not a plan to bring peace to the region or to make our people safer at home.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates argued that an Iraq withdrawal “will be a long process.”
A new report by the Center for American Progress, entitled “How To Redeploy,” states that “deciding between a swift or extended redeployment is a false dilemma.” An orderly and safe withdrawal is best achieved over a 10- to 12-month period:
A phased military redeployment from Iraq over the next 10 to 12 months would begin extracting U.S. troops from Iraq’s internal conflicts immediately and would be completed by the end of 2008. During this timeframe, the military will not replace outgoing troops as they rotate home at the end of their tours and will draw down force and equipment levels gradually, at a pace similar to previous rotations conducted by our military over the past four years.
Most analysts claim that a withdrawal will be a drawn-out procedure because they assume, that given the amount of military equipment in Iraq, the U.S. is capable of moving out only one brigade per month to Kuwait.
The CAP report accelerates the timetable by placing an emphasis on the troops over the equipment. “It matters more to get soldiers and Marines to safety in Kuwait than it does to ensure one unit’s equipment is shipped out before another’s is able to.” The report explains that, rather than risking the lives of troops or wasting financial resources to stay longer, certain “non-sensitive equipment — such as freezers, sinks, fuel, excess equipment, and x-ray machines” can be left behind.
The report, authored by analysts Lawrence Korb, Max Bergmann, Sean Duggan, and Peter Juul, offers a detailed tactical perspective on withdrawal. Among a host of strategic maneuvers, the plan involves “closing forward operating bases” in Iraq, not replacing units that are rotated out, and securing the routes out of Iraq to Kuwait.
When Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) recently asked the Pentagon about contingency plans for withdrawal from Iraq, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman responded that she was reinforcing enemy propaganda. If the administration fails to take the initiative in planning for a drawdown, the report warns troops could end up “waiting for the helicopters on the embassy roof.”