Hours ago, I had the honor of interviewing (via phone) Major General Mark Hertling, the Commanding General of the 1st Armored Division and current Commander, Multi-National Forces-North; an area of responsibility that includes Samarra, Tikrit, Balad, Kirkuk, and Mosul. America is fortune to have smart, tough military leaders like MG Hertling.
I asked him a series of questions about Samarra (more to come); but ended with two broad questions: “Would it be possible for him to withdraw all his combat troops in 16 months?” and “Would it be a good idea to remove all combat troops in 16 months?” To his credit, he spoke bluntly:
He led with: “Withdrawal is not a strategy; it’s an action.”
16-month withdrawal possible? “Physically, it would be extremely difficult. It would take a complete activation of America’s reserve Air Corps and the entire Navy to bring all equipment home in that time frame. Unless, of course, you leave all the equipment behind; and nobody thinks that would be a good idea. So, no, it would not be physically possible.”
16-month withdrawal good idea? “Absolutely not. Doing so would leave gaping holes in security; and without the proper strategy, leaving in 16 months would be a very dangerous proposition and could put troops in harm’s way.”
That’s enough for me…