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Not leaving Iraq: DOD scrambles to explain unsigned letter on withdrawal – a ‘draft’ released by mistake

Screen capture … Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley … Credit: CNBC

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On Monday, top U.S. DOD officials scrambled to deny the context of a draft letter mistakenly released that implied United States military units were about to withdraw from Iraq, in spite of President Trump telling reporters on Sunday, “We’re not leaving.”

Various news outlets reported that a letter to Iraq’s Ministry of Defense from the desk of Task Force Iraq Commanding General William H. Seely III advised that the U.S. would be “repositioning forces over the course of the oncoming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement.”

But initially, Defense Secretary Mark Esper disputed the content of the letter and said that he was puzzled by it. He told reporters, “I don’t know what that letter is. We’re trying to find out where that’s coming from, what that is. But there’s been no decision made to leave Iraq. Period.”

Afterward, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, after what was undoubtedly an unpleasant ripple of “WTF” down through the chain of command, emerged to tell reporters:  “That letter is a draft, it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released … poorly worded, implies withdrawal, that is not what’s happening.”

A Reuters source in the Iraqi military had confirmed that the Ministry of Defense had received the letter. However copies of that which were mistakenly sent out, clearly show that it was not signed by Gen. Seely.

It was apparently an early contingency draft, intended to be on hand in case a decision was made at the highest level to indeed withdraw forces from the country as requested by Iraqi lawmakers following the vaporization of Iranian terror potentate Qassim Soleimani on January 3.

Following the controversial nonbinding vote by the Iraqi Parliament to expel U.S. military forces, President Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that the U.S. would not be leaving unless “they pay us back for it,” referring to a multi-billion dollar air base there.

“We’ve spent a lot of money in Iraq,” Trump said. “We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. … We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”

Former Marines and all active-duty military members and veterans have to shudder to imagine the righteous wrath, aka the “big green weenie,” coming down on whatever poor, low-level, paper-pushing grunt put the letter in the wrong pile for processing.

The mistake is not hard to picture, but of course, lefties are once again eagerly blaming Trump …

Victor Rantala


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