U.S. troops doubt they will leave Iraq soon
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’“It’s just a study group. It’s not really going to affect the president. I don’t see any major changes happening until presidential elections start,” Wiacik said. “I think both sides will promise to get troops out and give timelines then, but not before.” The U.S. Army troops, based in the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, are still reeling from learning two months ago that their tour was being extended until at least February. “We’ve been here for 12 months now and there’s been no progress,” said Spc. Richard Johnson, 20, of Bridgeport, Conn., as he manned a machine gun on the rooftop of an outpost ringed by a shallow moat of sewage. Nearby buildings have been leveled, and others are riddled with bullet holes. The neighborhood only has electricity a few hours a day and most streets are barricaded with barbed wire and blast walls. “It’s like holding a child’s hand. How long can you hold onto his hand before he does something on his own?” Johnson said. “How much longer do we have to get shot at or blown up?” The bipartisan Iraq Study Group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, said Wednesday that the United States faces a “grave and deteriorating” situation after nearly four years of war in Iraq. The soldiers here also welcomed news that Robert Gates had been named to replace Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Gates told a Senate committee Tuesday that “all options are on the table” about how to resolve the Iraq crisis. “Yes, please! All of us want to change what we’re doing because we’re not doing very much,” said Staff Sgt. Rony Theodore, 33, of Brooklyn, N.Y.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! RAMADI, Iraq – American troops in one of the most dangerous corners of Iraq are skeptical they’ll be leaving any time soon, despite a new U.S. defense chief and a bipartisan commission urging a new war strategy. The soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment welcomed the plans for change, but questioned the high-level U.S. panel’s recommendation Wednesday that most combat troops leave Iraq by early 2008. “There’s no way we’re leaving in two years no matter what any recommendation says,” said Spc. Eisenhower Atuatasi, 26, of Westminster He thought 2012 was more realistic. Sgt. Christopher Wiacik, 28, of Lavonia, Mich., also was pessimistic.