Pentagon Openly Disobeys President Obama
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Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end... Through this period of transition, we will carry out further redeployments. And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
President Obama may "intend" to order the removal of all U.S. troops," but the Pentagon has does not "intend" to follow their Commander-in-Chief's order.
NBC's Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszeswki (left - watch video) broke the news to David Gregory 5 minutes before President Obama's Iraq speech, and even Gregory was shocked:
Miklaszeswki: Secretary Gates, as early as 18 months to 2 years ago, was saying "look, everyone understands that we're going to have to start withdrawing from Iraq." But at the same time, Gates adds this caveat that he believes significant numbers of troops will remain in Iraq for years to come.
And in fact military commanders, despite this Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government that all US forces would be out by the end of 2011, are already making plans for a significant number of American troops to remain in Iraq beyond that 2011 deadline, assuming that Status of Forces Agreement would be renegotiated.
And one senior military commander told us that he expects large numbers of American troops to be in Iraq for the next 15 to 20 years, David.
Gregory: 15 to 20 years, I think that takes a moment to really sink in. With a mission that is primarily what over that kind of time horizon, Mik?
Miklaszeswki: Again it would evolve from a day-to-day combat mission, to more of an oversight mission. We mustn't forget the US is providing nearly 100% of all combat air support over Iraq, and the Iraqi military is not going to be ready to assume that mission within the next 18 months to 2 years, it's going to be impossible.
And there are some discussions, I know Richard Engel mentioned the area of Kirkuk up in the north recently, there are some discussions among Iraqis and I know some military commanders to establish what could end up as a permanent air base, US air base, in Kirkuk.
Striking indeed - and the exact opposite of everything Barack Obama said 5 minutes later. It's also the exact opposite of everything George Bush said when he signed the Iraq Withdrawal Agreement.
So who's the Commander-in-Chief - President Obama or the Pentagon brass?
The Armed Services Committees of the Senate and House need to hold hearings immediately on whether the Pentagon plans to disobey President Obama's decision to "remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011."
And if so, some Generals need to be fired for insubordination before they launch a military coup like the Business Plot against FDR.
Update 1: Cernig says US credibility is at stake:
whether the US' word, as set down in the SOFA agreement with Iraq, is worth the paper it's printed on. There's a considerable body of opinion in military and neo-whatever circles that says it isn't.
Cernik links to Marc Lynch who reminds us the Iraqi people will have their say in July:
"Iraqis will be watching carefully to see whether the United States honors its commitments" in the months leading up to an Iraqi referendum on the SOFA agreement on July 31st and that if they don't see the right answer then the referendum will be a resounding "no" - at which point the US will have only 12 months to get everyone out of Iraq or occupy the country illegally again.
It could be a very hot summer in Iraq...
Update 2: Tom Ricks seconds Miklaszeswki:
I think Obama is listening to the military. Partly because this plan for this post-occupation force, down to 35,000 or 50,000, that's something the military has been talking about for over a year. It's right at the end of my book, reported in Baghdad last summer. I wouldn't pay too much attention to the Status of Forces Agreement. That was a bit of window dressing drawn to give [Iraqi Prime Minister] Maliki cover in Iraqi politics because it was necessary to take the divisive issue of the American forces off the table. It can always be renegotiated. I think we're there for many years to come—Gen. Odierno says he'd like to see 30,000 troops there in maybe 2015, well into Obama's second term, and I think that's probably a pretty accurate view.
Jala Naftji, a Turkmen member of the Kirkuk governing council, told Al-Zaman that he had been afraid of an increasing security vacuum in the province, but has been reassured since Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sent an Iraqi Army unit up. He also expected that an enduring US base would be established in the city of Kirkuk. He said that in the last meeting of the governing council with Gen. Ray Odierno, the latter had pledged that the US would not give up the security mission before the Kirkuk issue was resolved.