Texas Army National Guard Colonel James K. Brown commands the 56th Brigade Combat Team operating now in Iraq. In a Q&A with reporters this morning, he had some choice words in answer to Rep. John Murtha, who called yesterday for withdrawal from Iraq because we’ve done all we can do there militarily. Here’s the money quotes:
QUESTION: “Colonel Brown, I didn’t know if you’d heard the remarks yesterday made by Congressman John Murtha calling for an immediate pullout from Iraq; Congressman Murtha being a Marine for 37 years, Vietnam veteran who had been awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. Coming from someone like that, what do you think of this call?”
COLONEL JAMES K. BROWN: “Well, certainly I think that, coming from a distinguished American, a distinguished member of our Congress, that’s the ongoing rhetoric of a democracy, our own democracy, as we look at the future of our participation here.
“But physically here on the ground, our job’s not done. It’s been very clear by administration and by the leadership of the military here in Iraq that our exit from this theater should be conditions-based.”
QUESTION: “Sir, as a follow-up, though, what do you say to his contention that the troops there are helping fuel the insurgency? He says, ‘Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency, a catalyst for violence. The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.'”
COLONEL BROWN: “Well, certainly as we support the democracy, our forces and coalition forces are going to be the targets of insurgents. But as we incubate all the national elements of power of this young democracy, it’s necessary for us to be here to provide the security, provide the support to the Iraqi security forces to be able to do that.
“I think it would be, in my opinion — and I think it’s supportive of what’s being said — is that our job’s not finished. And we need to stay here and finish the job that we began.
“I think the soldiers, my soldiers, believe that we’ve made great strides in supporting the democracy of Iraq. And I think all those soldiers want to see that job finished.”
Do you hear the same echo of Vietnam I do? We can win, if we have the fortitude to do it, and let our warfighters take the fight to the enemy in Iraq and wherever else he may be. And if we don’t, we can lose. And we will.