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No, The Combat Troops Are Not All Leaving Iraq

I know, MSNBC is breathlessly implying that this is the end ... it's not.

There will still be 50,000 troops in Iraq, the only difference will be the name by which they are referred


    ... They are now termed "advise and assist brigades" by the administration, and the press dutifully reported this new term in their stories.

    No wonder the press missed it. They can’t be expected to take dictation and fact-check it too.

    Normally, misleading text and headlines are so commonplace they just don’t bother one like they used to. But this is Iraq. And I’m worried that the American public may be misled into thinking that all we’ll have over there a month from now are a few clerks and supply officers. The public might wrongly perceive from a false-fact like "all combat troops gone" that the light they’re seeing at the end of this horrific tunnel is fairly strong, when maybe it’s not that strong and it’s pretty far away.

    What the administration has done (and the press would know this if they’d simply do their collective job) is rebrand the Iraqi mission with an new tag-line (“New Dawn”), and re-label six fully-combat-capable brigades with new, kinder and gentler titles. That’s basically the story. Here’s the February memo from Gates to CENTCOM giving the go-ahead to roll-out the kinder/gentler new mission tag-line that we’ll all going to hear so much about.

    The New Dawn mission tagline and associated public relations effort doesn’t fit well with the word “combat”–and actually the American people have had their fill of the term too. So no accident that the administration has simply renamed six (or so) brigade combat teams as “advise and assist” brigades. The units may have received minor personnel changes, but otherwise are in no way different from existing combat brigades in Iraq. Indeed, some or maybe all of them are already deployed and functional under our current “Operation Iraqi Freedom” mission. The only thing that has changed is the name.

    The six units are thought to be:

      • 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
      • 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division
      • 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
      • 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
      • 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
      • 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Div