Retired Lt. Col. says Biden right to end combat mission in Iraq

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation Now) — Weeks after the U.S. military abandoned equipment in an abrupt departure in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden announced a plan to conclude the combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year.

Biden said the U.S. military will continue to assist Iraq in its fight against the Islamic State group, or ISIS. A joint U.S.-Iraq statement said the security relationship will be focused on training, advising and intelligence-sharing.

“[It’s] not only a good idea, it’s long overdue,” retired Lt. Col. Daniel Davis said on On Balance with Leland Vittert. “We should have done this a long time ago.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to say how many troops would remain in Iraq by year’s end.

“The numbers will be driven by what is needed for the mission over time, so it is more about moving to a more advising and training capacity from what we have had over the last several years,” she said.

The U.S. troop presence has stood at about 2,500 since late last year when then-President Donald Trump ordered a reduction from 3,000.

“We have proven that that doesn’t matter whether you have 186,000, 20,000, or 2,500 [troops], it’s not a militarily accomplishable mission,” Davis said. “So by staying there, all we would do is perpetuate the loss, the loss of troops, the loss of money, and it would still not be won. Pulling out is what we need to do for our interests.”

Davis said Iraq and Afghanistan have distracted the U.S. from China, Russia and North Korea.

The vulnerability of U.S. troops was demonstrated most dramatically in January 2020 when Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on al-Asad air base in western Iraq. No Americans were killed, but dozens suffered traumatic brain injury from the blasts. That attack came shortly after a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian military commander Qassim Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at Baghdad International Airport.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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