Increase of troops in Iraq felt at home

The increase in troop numbers would most likely be devoted toward further securing the city of Baghdad.

Kathryn Nelson

The already strained United States military might pass its burden onto University students.

Last Wednesday, President George W. Bush announced that he has committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq.

Many of these soldiers, he said, would be placed in the city of Baghdad to help secure some of the most volatile areas.

Critics of the president have called this move a last-ditch effort in an increasingly unpopular war.

Senior elementary education and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps student, Andrew Kleinfehn, said a failure could cause Iraq to fall under new regimes or dictators. It might also allow the Taliban, an extremist Islamic group, to thrive.

War is not just a distant thought for Kleinfehn. He spent eight months in Bosnia between 2003 and 2004.

After extensive training, Kleinfehn participated in presence patrols and weapon harvests, but never in a counterinsurgency.

In the ROTC program at the University, he is eligible to go to Iraq after he completes his training, which may be as soon as a year and a half.

Kleinfehn recognized the sacrifice that soldiers make in Iraq, but said it “makes a world of difference.”

Though some believe the troop increase will be a positive step toward stabilizing Iraq, assistant professor of political science Jason Roberts said it is clear that the U.S. needs to change its strategy, citing the growing violence, especially in Baghdad.

Whether the troop increase is successful, he said, “We should see a gradual reduction in the number of troops in Iraq.”

As the definition of success in Iraq continues to change, Roberts said he still thinks the Bush administration wants to see a stable country that “is able to govern itself democratically.”

Mechinical engineering sophmore Laura Meinholz said she has opposed the war in Iraq since its beginning in 2003.

Meinholz, who has both friends and a family member who have served in Iraq, said she is not ungrateful for their sacrifice. Rather, she said she would like to see the money now allocated for the war going to better use, such as rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

For some, an increase in troops could mean an increase in casualties.

Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Caesar Farah said the increase of U.S. forces will not aid in the pacification of hostile environments, such as Baghdad, but rather the increase “only subjects (troops) to greater danger and increases the probability of mounting American casualties.”

If the situation in Iraq is not resolved after the increase, Farah said the U.S. will be faced with an indefensible problem, one which, he fears, will initiate a movement toward a rapid pullout.

As for a solution to the American-led war, Farah said he believes, “The U.S. is out of any more logical or tenable steps to take in Iraq.” He suggested the

U.S. should “plan on an orderly face-saving method to withdraw,” similar to that which concluded the Vietnam War.

As for Kleinfehn, he said he is planning to become a medical evacuation pilot and to serve in Iraq, if needed.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” he said, “but it’s the best training in the world.”