President Barack Obama has made it official; “Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.” This is a direct quote from the President’s speech to the Marines at Camp Lejeune on February 27, 2009. He went on to say that pursuant to the Status of Forces Agreement that the US and Iraqi governments agreed to, “I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. We will complete this transition to Iraqi responsibility, and we will bring our troops home with the honor that they have earned.”
For someone like me, who was opposed to this war of choice from the beginning, it is a somber moment. Having served in the first Gulf War with the 3rd Armored Cavalry, I knew this second round of war in Iraq would be different. In the first war, we stopped short of going into the cities and towns, stopped short of removing the established government of Iraq. We knew this would radically change the mission from removing the Iraqi Forces from Kuwait to one of nation building. As a result, Desert Storm was a success. The United States and our allies suffered minimal casualties and quickly disarmed and removed the Iraqi military.
I believe this war of choice, this war of arrogance, this misguided ideological decision to send the forces of the United States into combat for the intended purpose of regime change and nation building will be seen as one of the worst foreign policy decisions in our nation’s history.
My heart goes out to all the families and friends of our soldiers who paid the ultimate price for their service to our country. My thoughts are with all those who came home changed forever; wounded physically, spiritually and emotionally. The human cost of this war is staggering. I hesitated to list casualties here as the numbers feel so impersonal, so statistical. These are real human beings represented in these statistics. Real American men and women whose lives were cut short, many of them in their youth. May we always remember and honor them.
American Military Deaths in Iraq
Since war began-3/19/03 4,252
American Military wounded in Iraq
Since war began-3/19/03 31,089
Total financial cost of the war as of Feb 28, 2009