An interesting spin in the media today: "The last major combat brigade, Stryker Brigade, is exiting Iraq." 100 or so left to tie up loose ends, and they'll be out soon. It's not sitting well with some of my soldier babies. Brian's facebook update, today, read:
“its peculiar, how FOX news is reporting the last combat brigade has left Iraq, yet here we are, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team-3ID, still way in Iraq.”
I've been reading through other reports that insinuate that they're all coming home. A disclaiming word here and there, the last "major" combat brigade is coming home. And, "the base has had 18,000 troops deployed to Iraq in 2009 and the brigade is the last of them."
The base. The last of the troops from Joint Base Lewis McChord, in Washington State. That's one base. My kid is a combat engineer, serving in a combat brigade from another base, and he's still there. His replacements are flying in, and will serve their (probable 1-year) tour.
What are they, chopped liver?!
No, they're not chopped liver; they have simply been assigned new titles: Support and Assistance Brigades (or some such). 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq to "support and assist" the Iraqi military. How does that assistance come into play? Brian's company has been "assisting" the Iraqi military for the last year. I asked him what that means; are they just a burly menacing background presence, like bouncers or bodyguards? His answer:
"we lead all the missions still, sometimes with an Iraqi army truck, or Iraqi police truck with us to put an Iraqi face on our missions"Leading the missions. That is supportive. And at some point, "support and assistance" has to translate into "we got your back" when combat situations occur, and they will.
When that time comes, our Combat Engineers from our Combat Brigades will support and assist by engaging in combat. There will still be fighting, and there will still be American lives lost, and we shouldn't play down that fact. I'm not celebrating until my kid is out of there, and I will continue to ache for the families whose soldiers are still serving. I'm sick of war. I'm sick of Iraq and Afghanistan, and listening to body counts.
When it all comes down to it, I guess I just need to shout out that there may be a new name on this operation, and a new title on our combat brigades, but we can't forget that we still have 50,000 troops there.
I want to remind you that as the rest of the country celebrates the homecoming of Stryker Brigade, there are hundreds of families, as I write this, in a state of dread, gearing up to say goodbye to their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mommy, or daddy, for a year, and to put them on a plane to Iraq.
Our work is not done.