Here's a guest post from Andy Berdy, who knows what an infantryman is.
By Col. Andrew Berdy, U.S. Army (ret.)
Best Defense guest commentator
Can you explain to me how, or why, the myth of "all combat troops out of Iraq" is allowed to be perpetuated by the press, much less our senior military leadership? Yes, the mission has changed. But units like my son's Stryker Brigade (not the one that just left!) are, and always will be, combat infantry units.
This is fiction pure and simple. I just don't get how the nation has swallowed this and why members of the media are not reporting facts the way they are rather than the political PR message the Administration wants portrayed. Does anyone not think that the likelihood of continued combat operations is a reality? When casualties are taken by these "non-combat forces" will those casualties be characterized as "non-combat" as well? Does the public not understand that the secondary mission of our remaining forces is to be prepared to conduct combat operations either to defend themselves or to support Iraqi forces if requested? And when these train and assist "non-combat" units have to engage in, dare I say, combat operations, what will the Administration say then?
I can tell you, as a former brigade commander responsible for securing and helping to rebuild Port-au-Prince, Haiti, while we went in prepared for battle, and quickly transitioned to peacekeeping/nation building, there was never a moment that my infantry brigade was not prepared to conduct combat operations (which did occur late in the deployment) and there was never a moment when we were anything but a combat force. I suspect if you ask those troopers on the ground now they would agree with me and take incredible umbrage with what is being trumpeted on TV and in the press.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.