Gen. William Odom: "The only sensible strategy is to withdraw rapidly but in good order"

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William Eldridge Odom is a retired U.S. Army 3-star general, and former Director of the NSA under President Ronald Reagan, which culminated a 31 year career in military intelligence, mainly specializing in matters relating to the Soviet Union.

TESTIMONY BEFORE THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE ON IRAQ

By William E. Odom, LT General, USA, Ret.

2 April 2008

"The only sensible strategy is to withdraw rapidly but in good order. 

A number of reasons are given for not withdrawing soon and completely. I have refuted them repeatedly before but they have more lives than a cat. Let try again me explain why they don’t make sense.

First, it is insisted that we must leave behind military training element with no combat forces to secure them. This makes no sense at all. The idea that US military trainers left alone in Iraq can be safe and effective is flatly rejected by several NCOs and junior officers I have heard describe their personal experiences. Moreover, training foreign forces before they have a consolidated political authority to command their loyalty is a windmill tilt. Finally, Iraq is not short on military skills.

Second, it is insisted that chaos will follow our withdrawal. We heard that argument as the “domino theory” in Vietnam. Even so, the path to political stability will be bloody regardless of whether we withdraw or not. The idea that the United States has a moral responsibility to prevent this ignores that reality. We are certainly to blame for it, but we do not have the physical means to prevent it. American leaders who insist that it is in our power to do so are misleading both the public and themselves if they believe it.

The real moral question is whether to risk the lives of more Americans. Unlike preventing chaos, we have the physical means to stop sending more troops where many will be killed or wounded. That is the moral responsibility to our country which no American leaders seems willing to assume.

Third, nay sayers insist that our withdrawal will create regional instability. This confuses cause with effect. Our forces in Iraq and our threat to change Iran’s regime are making the region unstable. Those who link instability with a US withdrawal have it exactly backwards. Our ostrich strategy of keeping our heads buried in the sands of Iraq has done nothing but advance our enemies’ interest.

I implore you to reject these fallacious excuses for prolonging the commitment of US forces to war in Iraq.

Thanks for this opportunity to testify today."

Read Gen. Odom's entire testimony

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