Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Iraq: Larsen v. Souder

At what point will it be feasible for U.S. troops to return from Iraq?

"Larsen: I could say this fall, but would that be realistic? It may make you happy and it may be what we all would like to hear, but it most likely would not be honest or realistic. I served my country in the U.S. Navy. Life is unpredictable. The information that you and I have gotten has not been totally above board, so who is in a position to know when it might be feasible to have our military men and women come home? I believe the No. 1 priority now is to ensure our men and women have the best equipment and training to carry out their assigned tasks. And on an equal level, ensure those who have sacrificed much be taken care of to the fullest extent possible. If elected, I will move to bring them home as soon as humanly possible and ensure they have the best equipment and training to minimize our casualties. Rest assured, I will strive to make sure those men and women who sacrifice much in terms of causalities will be taken care of to the best of our ability."

"Souder: Our brave men and women in uniform -- and their families -- have made tremendous sacrifices to ensure that we can be safe back home. They understand that Iraq is part of a global war on terrorism. On Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida struck us here at home and our soldiers are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere to help ensure that Islamic terrorists are not able to attack us again. Oceans no longer offer us the protection that they once did and we are now forced to confront threats before they come to us.

I visited Iraq in March. Our commanders and the Iraqi government all said that by this fall we should be able to withdraw at least 20,000 troops (unless sectarian violence becomes far greater than it is currently). As the Iraqis take more and more control of their own security, I expect withdrawals to continue. But the world has a large stake in a stable Iraq and it is likely that significant numbers of coalition forces will remain for many years, as we have in Germany and Japan."

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