Former Iraq Commander Backs Democrats on Pullout

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 22, 2007

Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who commanded U.S. troops in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, is scheduled to speak on behalf of the Democratic Party this weekend in support of a House war funding bill that would require President Bush to bring the bulk of U.S. troops home from Iraq by the end of next year.

Sanchez, who has spoken out against the Bush administration's handling of the war and has assailed current war strategy as doomed to fail, plans to argue that the United States cannot win in Iraq with the military alone and that it is prudent to bring troops home to bolster national security.

In portions of Saturday's expected Democratic radio address in response to weekly White House remarks, Sanchez says that recent improvements in security in Iraq "have not been matched by a willingness on the part of Iraqi leaders to make the hard choices necessary to bring peace their country." According to the prepared remarks, he plans to say that there is no evidence that the Iraqis will do so in the near future.

Sanchez also plans to argue that U.S. armed forces have been stretched thin by bad war policy and that the House war funding bill, which requires the redeployment of U.S. troops and other measures for the Pentagon to secure $50 billion in funding, is the appropriate approach. Sanchez is expected to say that the war has significantly hurt the military. The White House has threatened to veto any bill that attaches strings to the war funding.

"Our Army and Marine Corps are struggling with changing deployment schedules that are disrupting combat readiness training and straining the patience and daily lives of military families," according to a portion of Sanchez's speech released last night. "It will take the Army at least a decade to repair the damage done to its full spectrum readiness, which is at its lowest level since the Vietnam War. In the meantime, the ability of our military to fully execute our national security strategy will be called into doubt, producing what is, in my judgment, unacceptable strategic risk."

Sanchez has been a controversial figure since 2004, when he was linked to the investigation of detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad. His alignment with the Democratic party comes amid reports that Sanchez is preparing to write a book about his experiences.

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