By NEMS Daily Journal
Many Mississippians – a portion of the collective thousands who have fought in Iraq – remain among the 130,000 U.S. troops who are many places in that fragile country, but they’re not in the hearts of cities after this week.
The war reached a turning point Tuesday with the formal execution of the planned withdrawal from cities, an acknowledgment that American soldiers fighting and rebuilding in the country since 2003 have reached one of the big goals: restoring the ability of Iraqi forces to take over primary guardianship and security in the urban areas.
Mississippians and others from all the other states and territories have done what they were trained and ordered to do, what two presidents and the officers in command laid out as a major goal of our military presence.
The cost has been painful and personal: Since the war began on March 19, 2003, some 4,323 Americans have died in service, 3,463 in combat. More than 30,000 have been wounded. As of Wednesday, 59 Mississippians had been reported killed.
Four of the American dead died Monday, painful evidence that hostilities have not ceased.
There’s no guarantee the newly empowered Iraqis can hold the line on internal security, but it would be to the great benefit of our national policy and our soldiers’ well-being if that happens.
The handover to Iraqi military control in the cities is essential for the success of the scheduled departure of American combat forces in 2011 and all military personnel in 2012.
We believe the nationwide opinion polls are right: Most Americans want us out of Iraq.
But the 130,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq haven’t disappeared. Most have been moved to forward operating bases, where they can quickly respond to specific requests for assistance from the Iraqi command, which says out of the spotlight it hopes it does not need the Americans to return.
Reporters on site say we shouldn’t expect dramatic TV footage of troops packing up and moving out on Iraq’s highways. U.S. units quietly have been vacating 150 bases designated to be closed or handed over to the Iraqi security forces, so much of the withdrawal was completed before the biggest news releases announced that it would happen.
Now, the Iraqi government is doing what every government in power does: It’s making the most of the situation for the sake of internal politics, and from all accounts, doing so with the quiet approval of the United States.