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Americans in Iraq will continue to be attacked, despite ‘non-combat’ role

American Soldiers on Patrol down dusty road

By Concerned Veterans for America

As of December 2021, U.S. military forces in Iraq have been designated as “non-combat” and are serving in a “train and equip” capacity.

But Concerned Veterans for America Senior Advisor Dan Caldwell points out that this change in mission is “a distinction without a difference.”  The distinction doesn’t make troops any safer, especially given the complicated politics on the ground.

In a recent op-ed, Caldwell, a veteran of the war in Iraq, highlights that U.S. troops are still in harm’s way and attacked on a regular basis. The danger is being in Iraq in the first place, not the designation of “combat” or non-combat.”

American service members should not be asked to risk their lives to support an Iraqi government that often allies with and even celebrates the people who are trying to kill them. Given the contradictory nature of the current American military mission, the only sensible path forward is withdrawal.

Withdrawing from Iraq would also reduce the risk of getting locked into an escalatory spiral with Iran and its proxies, which could lead to yet another bloody conflict in the Middle East—something we have come far too close to several times over the last few years due to the failed “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.

American troops, though serving bravely, are not supporting efforts of vital interest to our country’s safety. The best way to keep them safe and move toward a better foreign policy is to bring service members in Iraq home.

President Biden needs to recognize that there is nothing to gain from further loss of American blood and treasure in the deserts of Iraq. Last year, in response to similar attacks against American bases in Iraq, Biden launched airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria. As the events of last week showed, these airstrikes did not dissuade these militias from targeting Americans. Instead of getting the United States locked in another cycle of tit-for-tat retaliation that won’t enhance the safety of U.S. forces in Iraq, President Biden should order their expeditious removal from the country.

You can read the rest of Caldwell’s piece in The American Conservative.