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 President’s 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.’