Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Don't Dare Question The General

Joe Klein told me that Petraeus was honorable, so I know this can't be true either.

Sept. 14, 2007 - In endorsing Gen. David Petraeus's recommendations on Iraq, President George W. Bush said Thursday night that at least 21,500 U.S. combat forces, plus support troops, could leave Iraq and come home by next July. Curiously, the first military unit designated by Petraeus to return is the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Calif., north of San Diego.

But the 13th MEU, a support unit that has been in Iraq on its current tour for about three months, was already scheduled to return home from Iraq on Nov. 17. Their new date of arrival under the drawdown plan? Still Nov. 17. Other Marine units have been in Iraq as much as three times longer than the 13th MEU, and some active-duty Army soldiers are serving 15-month tours, the longest of the war. Relatives of the 2,000-member 13th MEU, most of whom have known for more than a month that the unit was coming home, are collectively a bit confused by the inclusion of the 13th MEU in the announcement of troop cuts, and some are even angry.

“I think General Petraeus is using normal circumstances and turning them into some kind of big deal,” says Melissa Hurt, 24, wife of a 13th MEU Sgt. Andy Hurt, 24. Originally from Minnesota, the couple has been married for four years and they have a 9-month-old son. “I don’t understand how this can be called a troop reduction since Andy was already scheduled to come home in November and was not scheduled to return to Iraq. There are guys who’ve been in Iraq for more than a year. They should bring them home first. I know my husband agrees with me.”

Wendy Foulis, whose husband, Gunnery Sgt. Gerald Foulis, is a member of the 13th MEU but was with other units previously and is completing his third tour in Iraq, says she has “absolutely no idea” why the general singled out her husband’s unit. “It’s the general’s decision, I won’t presume anything, but we’ve known our guys were coming home for more than a month,” she says. “This wasn’t a surprise. But since they were part of the surge, and since this unit is not designed for the type of work they did in Iraq, I guess it has something to do with that.”