The March 1 Middle East edition of the US military’s Stars and Stripes newspaper reported that
a poll of active-duty US troops in Iraq found that 51% of them believe all US military forces should be withdrawn from Iraq
within at least six months, with 29% saying they should be withdrawn “immediately”. Another 21% believe all US military forces should
be withdrawn from Iraq within one year.
The survey of 944 troops, conducted in Iraq between January 18 and February 14 by Le Moyne College
and the Zogby polling organisation, found that only 23% of US soldiers in Iraq thought US military forces should stay there
“as long as they are needed”. Among reservist, 90% favoured withdrawal
of all US forces within one year, compared to 83% of National Guard soldiers, 70% of US
Army regulars and 58% of the marines. About three-quarters of National Guard and reserve units favour withdrawal within six
months. Stars and Stripes reported that “Justin Logan, a foreign
policy analyst for the Cato Institute, called the figure alarming, and a sign that the Bush administration and troops in Iraq see the goals and the
progress of the war very differently”.
John Zogby, CEO of the polling company, said the survey was conducted face-to-face throughout
Iraq, with permission from commanders. Despite the difficulty of polling in a war zone, he
said, pollsters were satisfied with the process. “This is a credible and representative look at what the troops are
saying”, he said. “Clearly there are those [in the US] who will speak for the
troops, so there is a real value in seeing what they are actually saying.”
The White House argues that US military forces should
be withdrawn as the US-recruited Iraqi security forces become capable of fighting the patriotic Iraqi resistance forces without
US “support”. “As we see more of these Iraqi forces in the
lead, we will be able to continue with our stated strategy that says as Iraqi forces stand up, we will stand down”,
US President George Bush declared on January 4.
While publicly, the Pentagon repeatedly claims it is making “progress” in training
its puppet Iraqi forces, the reality is very different. Associated Press reported
on February 7 that in testimony before the US Senate armed service committee that day, Joint Chiefs of Staff head General
Peter Pace revealed that there was still only one Iraqi army battalion, roughly 700 troops, capable of fighting without the
US military’s “support”. On February
25, CNN reported that “the only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without US support has been downgraded to a level
requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday. The battalion, made up of 700 to 800
Iraqi Army soldiers, has repeatedly been offered by the US as an example of the growing
independence of the Iraqi military.” CNN reported that the battalion was
downgraded by the Pentagon from “level one” to “level two” after a recent quarterly assessment of
its capabilities. “Level one” means the battalion is able to fight on its own; “level two” means it
requires support from US troops; and “level three” means it must fight alongside US troops. “According to the congressionally mandated Iraq security report released
Friday”, CNN added, “there are 53 Iraqi battalions at level two status, up from 36 in October. There are 45 battalions
at level three, according to the report.”
From Green Left Weekly, March 15, 2006.
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