Saturday, February 17, 2007

Commander of 3rd Army Whitcomb: U.S. in Iraq long past 2008; 'This is a long, long fight'

CHAPEL HILL - The United States is likely to be fighting in Iraq long after 2008, regardless of who is elected president, according to the three-star Army general who coordinates all U.S. land troops there and in Afghanistan.

Even if a new president calls for an immediate pullout, from a logistical standpoint it would take a substantial time to get everyone out, said Lt. Gen. R. Steven Whitcomb, commander of the Third Army.

Whitcomb spoke to students in the Curriculum of Peace, War and Defense at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Friday afternoon.

Read the rest at the News Observer

CHAPEL HILL -- It would be a "big mistake" if the United States quickly pulled troops out of Iraq as some presidential candidates and members of Congress are demanding, a senior U.S. military officer said at UNC on Friday.

"I hope we stay the course," said Lt. Gen. R. Steven Whitcomb. "This is a long, long fight."

Whitcomb, a University of Virginia graduate who began his Army career with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, is the commanding general of the Third Army, U.S. Army Central and Coalition Forces Land Component Command, a role in which he supports American land forces in 27 countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Third Army was commanded by Gen. George S. Patton during World War II.

Many of the approximately 100 students in Friday's audience, a number of them in UNC's Peace, War and Defense program, asked Whitcomb questions, but few offered strong statements of criticism or support for military and political actions in Iraq.

Whitcomb repeatedly said American troops will be in Iraq for a while, and that the war on terror will be a long one.

Read the rest at the Herald Sun

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