"Why don't we just go?"

The military says soldiers understand why they've got to stay in Iraq longer. Really?

Published April 13, 2007 3:08PM (EDT)

Army Lt. Gen. Army Ray Odierno, commander of the Multinational Corps-Iraq, said at a press briefing from Baghdad today that, while longer tours of duty for soldiers serving in Iraq will be "hard" on the soldiers and their families, "All who serve understand the importance of what we are trying to accomplish here and that the mission will always come first."

Well, not "all," exactly.

Army Sgt. Shawn Miller, who just learned that he'll be spending three months longer than he thought in Iraq, tells the Washington Post: "I was mad before I even heard about the 15 months. I don't want to be here. I don't think you need to sit here an extra three months to help people do what they don't want to do for their dadburn selves. To me, if you've been here four years and the country ain't straight, why extend another three months? Why don't we just go?"

Odierno tried to answer the "why" question during his briefing today. "I would just say that the reason we want to maintain the surge -- or at least we have the surge -- is continuing to do -- provide time and space for the Iraqi government as well as the Iraqi security forces to continue to develop and build capacity," he said. "And that's what this is about, building their capacity so we can move forward. "

That was Odierno's long answer to a question about whether the United States will need to maintain the "surge" into 2008. His short answer: "Well, I'm not sure yet."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

MORE FROM Tim Grieve

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Iraq War War Room