Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack of Mount Vernon sits on one of the two congressional committees that convened Monday to hear testimony from the general who’s leading U.S. forces in Iraq. "I was disappointed, of course, to hear that the surge is going to continue," Loebsack says.
General David Petraeus said he believes U.S. troops levels in Iraq can be reduced by about 30,000 sometime next summer — so the number of troops would then be just about equal to the number of troops that were in Iraq before the "surge." "As a bottom line up front, the military objectives of the surge are in large measure being met," General Petraeus said to open the hearing.
Loebsack says he’s worried because Petraeus didn’t indicate there’s an end for U.S. involvement in sight. "Over the weekend General Petraeus sent correspondence to the troops on the ground there and said something to the effect the goal line is in sight, it’s far away, but we have the ball and we’re driving," Loebsack says. "My two questions are…how far from the goal line are we and how much time is this drive going to take?"
Loebsack says the surge is a "short-term tactic" and he’s more interested in the long-term outlook in Iraq. "From a strategic standpoint, what is the mission? How much time is it going to take to complete the mission, if it can be completed?" Loebsack asks. "And what kinds of resources will have to be devoted over the course of the next several years, whatever number of years that may be?"
Loebsack contends the American people aren’t convinced it’s worth staying in Iraq for the long-term. Some critics of the war were calling General Petraeus "General Betray Us" yesterday, but Loebsack won’t label that helpful or hurtful rhetoric.
"I didn’t pay much attention to that," Loebsack says. "I was more concerned about what they were having to say about our involvement in the war in Iraq and whether we can do, as I hope we can do, and that is to begin to remove our troops immediately and have them home over the course of the next 12 months."
About 169,000 American troops are currently serving in Iraq. By mid-October, troop levels should rise to about 172,000.