U.S. Military Leaves Iraq
By: John Hampton
Speaking at a military ceremony in Baghdad on December 15th, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta officially ended the U.S. war in Iraq.
It would be easy to advance theories and speculation about why we should or should not have invaded Iraq in the first place. The same could be applied to the wisdom of terminating the war at this particular time. But the fact is, The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) mandated, among other things, the departure of all U.S. military personnel from Iraq by the end of 2011.
The SOFA also indicated that any U.S. forces remaining in Iraq past the deadline, may well have lost their immunity status. In other words, any U.S. forces encountering legal difficulties would have been subjected to the Iraqi legal system. The United States Military will not operate under those conditions, so to avoid this imbroglio, the deadline was honored. Had we not already spent enough blood and treasure there anyway?
Although approximately 4,000 troops still remain in Iraq as of December 15th, they will all be gone within the next 2 weeks. At that point we can breathe a sigh of relief for our Military, their families and our Nation, as that chapter in the war on terror will be over.
More than 1 million men and women have served in Iraq since the war began in March 2003. Nearly 4,500 Americans have paid the ultimate price in the service of their Country, and more than 32,000 have been wounded. Most served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. And the cost of prosecuting this war was a staggering $800 billion dollars.
Was it all worth it? Our Military has given the Iraqi people a chance to experience freedom. It will not be easy given the powers that will surely conspire against them, but it is now their responsibility, a responsibility they must not take lightly, to maintain their freedom. With that said, it is difficult to justify the loss of life and injury to so many fine young Americans under any conditions. That part of the war is over, but the memories, the pain, the disabilities, the anger and resentment will live on.
I am grateful that the substantial weight of Iraq has been lifted from the shoulders of our Military. This will allow some of our troops to make it home in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, other fronts in the war on terror are still raging and other threats still looming. Although one mission is complete, many more remain, and our Military must continue to engage the enemy. For this reason, other troops will not make it home for Christmas but will be reassigned, possibly to the battlefields of Afghanistan.
My motive here is simply to express my deepest thanks to all our Military members fighting the war on terror, and my deepest sympathies to those who have been devastated by the tragedies of war. The work these men and women do in the name of freedom and the defense of the United States is unparalleled. I thank God for the United States Military and will continue to pray for these indefatigable warriors and their families.
John Hampton lives in Tehachapi CA and is quite concerned about the policies and motives of the current Administration. He believes in a system that holds our freedoms sacred, promotes personal responsibility, prudence and high moral standards.