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U.S. Adviser’s Blunt Memo on Iraq: Time to ‘Go Home’

In this handout provided by the Iraqi prime minister’s office, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (R) shakes hands with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates (L) on September 15, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo credit: AFP / Getty Images)

By Michael R. Gordon

July 30, 2009


WASHINGTON — A senior American military adviser in Baghdad has concluded in an unusually blunt memo that Iraqi forces suffer from entrenched deficiencies but are now able to protect the Iraqi government, and that it is time “for the U.S. to declare victory and go home.” …

Prepared by Col. Timothy R. Reese, an adviser to the Iraqi military’s Baghdad command, the memorandum details Iraqi military weaknesses in scathing language, including corruption, poor management and the inability to resist Shiite political pressure. Extending the American military presence beyond August 2010, he argues, will do little to improve the Iraqis’ military performance while fueling growing resentment of Americans.

“As the old saying goes, ‘Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days,'” Colonel Reese wrote. “Since the signing of the 2009 Security Agreement, we are guests in Iraq, and after six years in Iraq, we now smell bad to the Iraqi nose.”

Those conclusions are not shared by the senior American commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, and his recommendation for an accelerated troop withdrawal is at odds with the timetable approved by President Obama. …

Before deploying to Iraq, Colonel Reese served as the director of the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the Army’s premier intellectual center. He was an author of an official Army history of the Iraq war — “On Point II” — that was sharply critical of the lapses in postwar planning. …

Colonel Reese’s memo lists a number of problems that have emerged since the withdrawal of American combat troops from Baghdad, completed June 30. They include, he wrote, a “sudden coolness” to American advisers and the “forcible takeover” of a checkpoint in the Green Zone. Iraqi units, he added, are much less willing to conduct joint operations with their American counterparts “to go after targets the U.S. considers high value.” …

Colonel Reese appears to have anonymously circulated a less detailed version of his memo on a blog called “The Enchanter’s Corner.” The author, listed on the site as “Tim the Enchanter,” is described as an active-duty Army officer serving as an adviser in Iraq who is “passionate about political issues.” That post on Iraq, along with one criticizing President Obama’s health care proposals, has been removed but can be found in cached versions. …

[While] General Odierno has drawn up detailed plans for a substantial advisory role, Colonel Reese argued in favor of a more limited — and shorter — effort, and recommended that all American forces be withdrawn by August 2010.

“If there ever was a window where the seeds of a professional military culture could have been implanted, it is now long past,” he wrote. “U.S. combat forces will not be here long enough or with sufficient influence to change it. The military culture of the Baathist-Soviet model under Saddam Hussein remains entrenched and will not change. The senior leadership of the I.S.F. is incapable of change in the current environment.”


Related link

Text of Colonel Timothy Reese’s Memo


Iraq memo declares victory, stirs controversy (MSNBC “Andrea Mitchell Reports, July 31, 2009) — A memo written by Col. Timothy Reese, which urged U.S. military commanders to “declare victory” and leave Iraq, is causing quite a stir amid continued deadly attacks on Iraqi civilians by insurgents. (02:43)


Related report on this site

Iraq Imposes New Limits on U.S. (July 18, 2009)


8/4/09 Update

U.S. General in Iraq Nixes Early Pullout Plan

Image: General Ray Odierno
Gen. Ray Odierno
(Photo credit: Jim Watson / AFP — Getty Images)

Aug. 4, 2009

RAMADI, Iraq — The top U.S. general in Iraq said Tuesday that he disagrees with a colonel’s memo urging an early troop withdrawal even though the security situation is better than expected since American forces turned over security in urban centers to the Iraqis more than a month ago.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the first senior American official to comment on the memo, told The Associated Press the Americans need to stay the course in Iraq.

The Iraqi security forces face corruption and other problems but “overall it’s gone very, very well,” he said. But, he added, the Americans are still needed to protect security gains.

“Our goal here given us by the president is a secure, stable sovereign self-reliant Iraq. We’re not there yet,” he said in an interview at a U.S. base after meeting with Iraqi officials in the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi.

Col. Timothy R. Reese, a U.S. Army adviser to the Iraqi military in Baghdad, wrote in his memo that the years-long American effort to train, equip and advise Iraqi security forces has reached a point of rapidly diminishing returns and the U.S. should go home next year, 16 months ahead of schedule. …

Odierno warned the security gains are fragile, saying the No. 1 threat was Kurdish-Arab tensions that could stoke violence in northern Iraq. …


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago Today — July 30, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day 16

One year ago today, on the 16th day of my campaign campaign against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I attended the St. Cloud area joint town hall meeting with the mayors of St. Cloud, St. Augusta, St. Joseph, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, and Waite Park to learn about the concerns of area civic leaders; and attended the Little Rock Lake TMDL Public Meeting to learn about water quality issues on Little Rock Lake and efforts to mitigate phosphorus, the water quality limiting nutrient responsible for the toxic blue-green algae blooms in the lake.

2 Responses to “Iraq: ‘Declare Victory’ and Get Out”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » MN-06: Bachmann Clark Polling Says:

    […] Iraq: ‘Declare Victory’ and Get Out […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Taliban Attack City Handed Over to Afghan Security Forces Says:

    […] Iraq: ‘Declare Victory’ and Get Out […]

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