Go big, go long or go home

Published 9:07 pm Monday, November 27, 2006

By Staff
A secret study of options for U.S. military action in Iraq was leaked and reported in The Washington Post last week. The study, commissioned by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, involves a group of about 16 military members, mainly colonels who have served in the Middle East, examining what is going right or wrong in the global War on Terror, including the war in Iraq and the options available for progress.
Reportedly, three options for improving the situation in Iraq came from the study. They have been dubbed: &#8220Go Big,” &#8220Go Long,” and &#8220Go Home.”
The &#8220Go Big” option suggests boosting U.S. troops in Iraq to counter the sectarian and insurgent violence that has become so prevalent. This option would require several hundred thousand additional U.S. and Iraqi soldiers.
The &#8220Go Long” option means U.S. troops would stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Over the long-term, it would cut the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and support the expansion and training of the Iraqi forces. In the short-term, the 140,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq would be boosted by 20,000 to 30,000 troops to help curtail the violence while more Iraqi troops are able to be trained.
The military's study is independent of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN), which is expected to release its recommendations early next month.
While we continue to await the final reports from each of these groups, we have seen the Iraq war policy debate intensify. Just last week, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said more Iraqi forces should be on the front lines.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., however, has urged that additional U.S. troops be sent to Iraq to stabilize the country. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn within the next four to six months.
Obviously, the difficult security situation in Iraq makes our efforts there daunting. Our commitment to train and equip Iraqi forces endures, but we alone cannot deliver an outcome certain. However, it is critical that we do not pull our troops out of Iraq prematurely.
Sending holiday cheer
The following organizations are only a sampling of the opportunities available to aid out troops:
&#8220Treats for Troops” (www.treatsfortroops.com) is an organization that allows families to adopt a soldier stationed overseas and send them care packages throughout the year.
&#8220Operation Uplink” (www.operationuplink.org) is a program that provides free phone cards to deployed service members and hospitalized veterans. These cards give them the opportunity to stay in touch with their families and friends during their time of separation.
Finally, &#8220Operation Hero Miles” (www.heromiles.org) is a program started by Representative Ruppersberger (D-CA) and members of the airline industry which allows frequent fliers here in the United States to donate their accumulated miles to men and women stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. These service members can then use these miles to fly home on leave to visit their families, friends, and loved ones.
Jo Bonner is U.S. representative. He can be reached, toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit at his Web site http://bonner.house.gov.

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