06 July 2007

US exit from Iraq would be a 'mess': general

Maggie has some background on Major General Rick Lynch.
and some great video here

Terri at A Soldiers Mind has some more insight on this same article.

An abrupt exit of US troops from Iraq would trigger a bloody "mess" just as the military is taking the fight to insurgents, a top general warned Friday as pressure mounted in Congress for a withdrawal.
Major General Rick Lynch, commander of coalition forces in central Iraq, said the addition of thousands more "surge" troops in recent weeks had enabled him to clear 70 percent of his territory south of Baghdad of insurgents.
"Those surge forces have given us the capability that we have now to take the fight to the enemy," he told Pentagon reporters via satellite from Baghdad.
"If those surge forces go away, that capability goes away and the Iraqi security forces aren't ready yet to do that," Lynch said.
In the troops' absence, insurgents would regain ground and be free to carry out roadside-bomb attacks in Baghdad, "and the violence would escalate."
"It would be a mess," the commander said, days before a new debate over withdrawing troops is to start in the Democratic-controlled Congress.
On Thursday another veteran Republican senator, New Mexico's Pete Domenici, joined the ranks of those opposed to George W. Bush's Iraq policy, raising the pressure on the US president ahead of the congressional debate.
Last week, respected Republican Senator Richard Lugar sent shock waves through Washington by taking to the floor of the Senate to argue that the "surge" was unlikely to work.
"I don't worry about the political clock," Lynch insisted, as US commanders prepare to report back in September on the impact of Bush's deployment of about 30,000 extra troops into Iraq, which peaked in mid-June.
"I'm focussed on killing or capturing the enemy in our battlespace, I'm focussed on helping the Iraqi people to get some kind of sustained security presence. And it's going to take a while," the major general said.
On Tuesday, Bush warned that his surge strategy should be given a chance to succeed.
"If we were to quit Iraq before the job is done, the terrorists we are fighting would not declare victory and lay down their arms," he told Air National Guard troops in West Virginia.
"They would follow us here, home. However difficult the fight is in Iraq, we must win it," Bush said.
Domenici, however, signaled support for a bill introduced in the Senate that would implement the findings late last year of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.
The panel of formerly high-ranking grandees recommended getting most US combat troops out of Iraq, with a target date for withdrawal of March 2008.
It said some US troops should remain in Iraq to train its new armed forces, protect US installations and conduct special forces missions against terrorists.
Lynch said that Iraqi army divisions were shouldering more of the security burden in the provinces under his control, such as Najaf and Karbala, but that police forces have been largely non-existent, "not competent or corrupt."
Under the surge, Lynch said his forces had killed about 50 insurgents and detained about 200 more, including "high value" ones, while uncovering more than 40 weapons caches.
"Intensive combat operations are still necessary," he said, while underlining that US forces are also stepping up reconstruction work and economic development to take the heat out of the insurgency.
"What I sense is a growing discontent (against insurgents) amongst the local communities, the tribes and their leaders, and we're benefiting from this discontent," the general added.
"What I believe is that Al-Qaeda has worn out its welcome."
Lynch also reiterated US accusations that Iran is providing weaponry and training to Shiite extremists, which he said was "a great cause for concern."

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