The U.S. Air Force Staying in Iraq
This morning, Secretary of the Air Force Mike Wynne, who was one of my roommates at West Point in the 1960s, reinforced Abizaid's remarks. Noting that Bagram air base in Afghanistan is 90 minutes from Tikrit, Mike observed that in today's world of integrated air-ground military operations, taking this long to respond to a request for close air support (CAS) for a ground unit is completely unacceptable. In fact, he quipped, if air force planes haven't arrived within 10 minutes of a CAS request, the army thinks its radios are broken.
So what do we have?
If any ground force units are left in Iraq, the U.S. air force will have at least one base of its own. The likely choice is Balad, located about mid-way between Baghdad and Tikrit, which is even now taking on the appearance of a permanent (or "enduring" base).
Even if all U.S. troop units are withdrawn, the air force may keep a squadron or two at Balad -- just in case the diplomats and Marine Guards at the embassy come under fire from extremists. And since these may be in Iraq for some time, so will the USAF.
The deck, so to speak, is being stacked higher and higher against those advocating no permanent bases and no U.S. troops left in Iraq. To find out more and what you can do to support our troops by getting them all back home, go to www.fcnl.org/issues and click on Iraq.