Military Adviser: Time For U.S. to Leave Iraq

(U.S. Navy/PO2 Kelvin T. Surgener)
In an "an unusually blunt" memo obtained by the New York Times, a senior U.S. military adviser wrote earlier this month that the United States military should "declare victory" and leave Iraq – even though Iraqi security forces still face an array of problems, including corruption and poor management.

"As the old saying goes, 'Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.'" Col. Timothy R. 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."

Reese argued that despite the problems besetting Iraqi security forces they are capable of maintaining order in Iraq. He suggested that it would be a mistake for the U.S. to keep any troops in the country beyond August 2010.

The current timetable, as outlined by President Obama, is to reduce the U.S. military presence in Iraq from about 130,000 troops to 50,000 troops or fewer next August. The remaining troops would perform non-combat operations, though these could include counterterrorism missions.

In his memo, Reese wrote that the partnership between Iraqi forces and their U.S. counterparts, who have taken on a more advisory role, has been fraught with problems.

At the Times notes, Reese wrote of a "sudden coolness" from Iraqis since U.S. forces left the country's cities last month; the "forcible takeover" of a Green Zone checkpoint; reticence from Iraqis to conduct joint operations against what the U.S. sees as high-value targets; and "unilateral restrictions" on American forces that "violate the most basic aspects" of the agreement between the two countries.

Asked about the memo, a spokesman told the newspaper it was designed for "a limited audience."

"The e-mail reflects one person's personal view at the time we were first implementing the Security Agreement post-30 June," Lt. Col. Josslyn Aberle said. "It does not reflect the official views of U.S. Forces in Iraq. Since that time many of the initial issues have been resolved and our partnerships with Iraqi Security Forces and G.O.I. partners now are even stronger than before 30 June."