Military option: Go big, go low or go home

Published 2:10 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2006

By By Jo Bonner
A secret study of options for U.S. military action in Iraq was leaked and reported in The Washington Post last week. The study, commissioned by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace, involves a group of about 16 military members, mainly colonels who have served in the Middle East, examining what is going right or wrong in the global War on Terror, including the war in Iraq and the options available for progress.
Reportedly, three options for improving the situation in Iraq came from the study. They have been dubbed: "Go Big," "Go Long," and "Go Home."
The "Go Big" option suggests boosting U.S. troops in Iraq to counter the sectarian and insurgent violence that has become so prevalent. This option would require several hundred thousand additional U.S. and Iraqi soldiers.
The "Go Long" option means U.S. troops would stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Over the long-term, it would cut the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and support the expansion and training of the Iraqi forces. In the short-term, the 140,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq would be boosted by 20,000 to 30,000 troops to help curtail the violence while more Iraqi troops are able to be trained.
"Go Home," the third option, would call for an almost immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. By all accounts, this option – cutting and running – could lead the Iraqis to an all-out civil war.
The military's study is independent of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker and former Representative Lee Hamilton (D-IN), which is expected to release its recommendations early next month.
While we continue to await the final reports from each of these groups, we have seen the Iraq war policy debate intensify. Just last week, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) said that more Iraqi forces should be on the front lines.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), however, has urged that additional U.S. troops be sent to Iraq to stabilize the country. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn within the next four to six months.
And last week, Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY), the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, revisited his support for reinstating the draft.
Obviously, the difficult security situation in Iraq makes our efforts there daunting. Our commitment to train and equip Iraqi forces endures, but we alone cannot deliver an outcome certain. However, it is critical that we do not pull our troops out of Iraq prematurely.
Sending Holiday Cheer to our Troops overseas
Over the past several years, I have used this column as an opportunity to encourage you to support our troops during the holiday season as they continue to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places around the world. There are many opportunities to send some holiday cheer to our troops.
The following organizations are only a small sampling of the many opportunities available:
"Treats for Troops" ( is an organization that allows families here in the United States to adopt a soldier stationed overseas and send them care packages throughout the year. The website contains information on how you can be matched up with a particular service member and then, by using the site's gift shopping link, a care package will be sent to your "adopted" soldier, sailor, airman, or marine.
"Operation Uplink"
( is a program that provides free phone cards to deployed service members and hospitalized veterans. These cards give them the opportunity to stay in touch with their families and friends during their time of separation, particularly during this holiday season when these links are so important to keeping up their morale.
"Operation Hero Miles"
( is a program started by Representative Ruppersberger (D-CA) and members of the airline industry which allows frequent fliers here in the United States to donate their accumulated miles to men and women stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. These service members can then use these miles to fly home on leave to visit their families, friends, and loved ones.
Again, this list is only a small sampling of the many opportunities to show our military that they are being remembered during this holiday season.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website at
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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