Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Representative John Kline, ex-Marine, on Iraq

Powerline has a great interview with Representative John Kline (R-MN). Kline retired from the Marine Corps after 25 years after having served in Vietnam and commanded all Marine aviation forces in Somalia. He flew Marine One, the Presidential helicopter, and carried the 'football' for both Presidents Carter and Reagan. Read the whole thing but here are some excerpts:

(Kline had just returned from a trip to Iraq - comparing it with his previous trips)

It was different in two respects. One, overall the level of violence was down. We were able to stay in Baghdad, not Kuwait, and we spent the whole time inside the Sunni Triangle. And in the time I was there I didn’t hear a gunshot or explosion. But the most important thing was the prevalence of the Iraqi security forces. They are really out there now, and they are doing a good job.

(On disbanding the Iraqi Army - a decision relentlessly attacked)

It was thought it would be a terrible thing to re-field the Iraqi army, because they were Baathists, they were Saddam loyalists, and if you inflicted them on the country as a whole it would be disastrous. You couldn’t just take these guys who ahd been thugs under Saddam Hussein and send them out there. And that was right.

(About an elite U.S. trained Iraqi unit)

There is a unit called the Iraqi counterterrorist force that was trained by our special operations forces. These guys are the elite of the Iraqi forces. They are composed of Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shia. They fight all over the country, they are a focused unit in that they are going after Zarqawi and the like. And they are darned good and they are very very proud of themselves. That’s something that Americans can’t have a sense for, how proud the Iraqi forces are. Their allegiance is to an Iraqi nation, not to a militia, not to a warlord, not to a particular religious sect.

And they are good. We saw a live-fire demonstration of them taking down a building with a simulated hostage in it. It was lightning-fast, very professional. And when it was over they came and formed up ranks and we went over and talked to them and told them how good they were and even though all the soldiers had balaklavas on, you could see their smiles right through it. They were really proud of themselves.

(On U.S. troop morale)

The thing that they can’t understand is that these soldiers don’t want to be brought home before the job is done. The soldiers’ morale is high. One of the great things about my trip was I got to spend some time with my son, who is stationed outside Tikrit. He is an Army Major, the executuve officer of a Blackhawk helicopter battalion that is stationed just outside Tikrit. Part of the 101st Airborne Division.

I met with him and many of his colleagues in Fort Campbell this summer, and we sat in a room and we talked about their upcoming deployment. And my very firm impression was that their morale was absolutely sky-high, they were eager to go, they were confident that they were going to get things done, and the only concern they expressed was, with all this news reporting, are we going to keep the support of the American people? And I said, absolutely you are, the vast majority of Congressmen are supportive, we understand that failure is not an option, we’re not going to send you over there for nothing, we’re not going to betray your trust.

Now that they’re over there and they’re engaged, it’s still their only concern...

The good news story is just shamefully lost where you get somebody like John Murtha saying, we’re not making any progress, and you get someone like Howard Dean saying we can’t win. What is that possibly based on? Because all information on the ground in Iraq refutes that.

Naturally, Kline ISN'T a household name.

No comments: