Must be more "phony soldiers"

Former Army captains say it's time to institute a draft or get out of Iraq.

Published October 16, 2007 3:03PM (EDT)

In an Op-Ed piece in today's Washington Post, 12 former Army captains who have served in Iraq say it's time for America to choose: Institute a draft, so that there will be enough troops to fight in Iraq, or get out of the country now.

The captains describe an Iraq "in shambles": Roads are in "deplorable" condition; sewer and water systems are worse than they were before the war; Baghdad gets less than eight hours of electricity a day; Iraqi ministries "do not have enough trained administrators or technicians to coordinate themselves"; there is no postal system and no "effective" banking system. What there is is "sabotage," "graft," "corruption" and "the exploitation of U.S. tax dollars by Iraqi officials and military officers." U.S. forces, "responsible for too many objectives and too much 'battle space,'" remain "vulnerable targets" for all who would attack them, and Iraqi forces still aren't up to the job themselves.

"This is Operation Iraqi Freedom and the reality we experienced," the former captains write. "This is what we tried to communicate up the chain of command. This is either what did not get passed on to our civilian leadership or what our civilian leaders chose to ignore. While our generals pursue a strategy dependent on peace breaking out, the Iraqis prepare for their war -- and our servicemen and women, and their families, continue to suffer."

Thus, their all-in or all-out solution: "To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition."

By Tim Grieve

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

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