Monday, August 23, 2010

As soldiers withdraw, other US personnel are "stepping in and staffing up"

As reported today at U.S. News & World Report online in an article by Alex Kingsbury, a senior U.S. intelligence official in an interview on Thursday described the US transition from its combat mission in Iraq to one of support this way: "What the American and Iraqi publics don't realize is that, as the soldiers step back, we're stepping in and staffing up."

U.S. troop levels in Iraq have dropped by a total of 90,000 since March. On September 1, combat-oriented Operation Iraqi Freedom is to be replaced by a "stability" mission called Operation New Dawn. Yet some 56,000 troops still remain in the country, including logistics and support personnel, trainers, military advisers and 4,500 Special Forces.

As US Vice President Joe Biden told the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Indianapolis Monday, "Drawing down our troops in Iraq does not mean we are disengaging from Iraq. In fact, quite the opposite is true", according to a Christian Science Monitor report by staff writer Howard LaFranchi.

While all U.S. soldiers and Marines are slated to lift their boots off Iraqi ground by the end of next year, many of their tasks will continue to be done by private contractors, diplomats and intelligence officers, according to the US News & World Report article. They'll be based in the hardened fortress in Baghdad, known as the Green Zone, that has earned the distinction of being the world's largest and most expensive embassy.

According to the 2,600 year-old prophecy of doom on Babylon written by Jeremiah the hebrew prophet, the occupiers will attempt to "heal" Babylon after having "broken" her. But their efforts will be thwarted, as the cities are engulfed in flames, pushing the reconstructionists to finally abandon her outright in frustration: "We applied healing to Babylon, but she was not healed; forsake her and let us each go to his own country, for her judgment has reached to heaven..." (Jer 51:9).

Now that the US mission has formally transitioned to one of support and reconstruction, will the fires ignite just as Jeremiah foresaw, or is this current occupation of Iraq not the one described in his ancient prophecy?

We have only a little more than a year to find out, as the deadline for complete withdrawal draws closer.

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