For many Americans the withdrawal of the last “combat troops” from Iraq three days ago marked a psychological end to the war. Lost in the self-congratulatory reportage, however, were the approximately 52,000 servicemembers who remain behind in various functions, some of them as dangerous as traditional “combat.” One soldier, the first since the symbolic withdrawal, lost his or her life during a presumed “hostile” rocket attack today in Basra. More deaths will follow until the last servicemember is gone…if that ever actually occurs.
I would not count on it happening anytime soon though. On the heels of this tragic news, Gen. Ray Odierno, who is the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, admitted that “combat troops” could return if the Iraqi security forces completely fail at their job. Part of that success unfortunately rests on a government that has been unable to seat a new premier thanks to political chicanery from the sitting prime minister. It has been five months and hundreds of civilian deaths since Iraqis tried to elect a new leader and little has changed. Much like little has changed for the American troops who are still stationed in Iraq and still hoping they make it home alive.