Troops React to Bush's 'Victory Plan'
Iraq Veteran and Operation Truth Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff released the following statement today, following President Bush's speech at the Naval Academy. Operation Truth is the nation's first and largest Iraq War Veterans organization.
"The plan the President outlined for Iraq is an improvement over the administration's previous plan, which consisted only of "stay the course." But as a Veteran of this war and someone who talks to other Veterans everyday, I can say that in the eyes of the Troops, this plan still falls short in two important ways.
First, there are still no metrics for success. Our Troops must know what objective guidelines will be used to declare that a goal has been reached. They deserve to know that their road home is based on hard data and not just a subjective opinion of success.
Second, a timeline for success must be established. Whether that means one year, two years, or five years, our Troops need a realistic time frame in which to achieve a well-defined mission. Without that, our Troops and their families cannot prepare to meet the obligation of our commitment to the Iraqi people.
The President himself has recognized the need for a timeline in military operations in the past. During the 2000 campaign, the Presidents own website stated, of the U.S. military engagement in Kosovo, "The President should also lay out a timetable for how long American troops will be involved." One of the President's own advisors said, "[Vice President] Gore seems to have a vision of an indefinite U.S. military deployment in the Balkans. He proved today that if he is elected, America's military will continue to be overdeployed, harming morale & re-enlistment rates, weakening our military's core mission."
The President must provide well-defined conditions for success and a timeline for our commitment in Iraq. Until that happens, his plan cannot be seen as credible in the eyes of the Troops and Veterans of this war. I wouldn't give this plan a failing grade, I would give it an 'incomplete.'"
Paul Hackett, veteran of the Iraq war and candidate for U.S. Senate, today responded to President Bush's remarks on the situation in Iraq and the White House release of their, "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."
"Once again the President has left the American people with unanswered questions. We deserve more than yet another glossy public relations stunt," said Hackett. "The President has failed to answer the number one question. I call on him tell the American people what the mission in Iraq is and describe the strategy for achieving that mission... 'staying the course' is neither a mission nor a strategy."
Responding to the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" Hackett called the 35 page document, nothing more than, "a smoke screen from a White House completely divorced from the reality of our situation in Iraq." He continued, "Iraq is less secure today than it was two and half years ago. The American military has accomplished all that can be militarily accomplished in Iraq. American tax dollars and lives should not be spent painting Iraqi schools or building Iraqi highways. It's time for the people of Iraq to rebuild their nation and it's time to plan for a redeployment of our troops serving in Iraq."