The president is commemorating "the end of the combat operations in Iraq." Except that U.S. military forces remaining in Iraq will continue to have combat responsibilities, both in support of Iraqi forces for internal security, and to protect Iraq from external threats, through at least the end of 2011. There is a serious disconnect between military missions and the statements coming out of the White House. However, this disconnect is not even the most egregious problem with administration's policy on Iraq. Far from being the "responsible drawdown" mantra the Obama administration keeps chanting, its transition to a completely civilian mission puts at risk the gains the military force has achieved thus far.
President Obama declared that "our commitment in Iraq is changing -- from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats." To the State Department's credit, it is dramatically increasing their numbers in Iraq. Iraq has the largest U.S. embassy in the world, and projections are for further increases to nearly 7,000 personnel. But more than half that number will be providing security, and the vast majority of them will be contractors, empowered to use deadly force. Every inspector general and GAO report on operations has criticized oversight of contractors; this has the potential for catastrophe.