See if you can spot the imperial/Freudian slip-
Mike Tharp | McClatchy Newspapers BAGHDAD — The last American patrol in Baghdad? The 75-minute hike was walked Saturday night in the northwest sector of the capital. Armored and armed, 10 U.S. soldiers, two Iraqi national police officers and two interpreters moved past the Sadamiya shrine, one of the holiest spots in Islam, and on to the Tigris River. It may well have been the last patrol before the deadline for U.S. combat forces to withdraw from major American cities.
Or maybe not.
The patrol from Camp Justice came from the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division, based in Fort Riley, Kan. It included the two Iraqi policemen as a sign that they and the Iraqi army will now assume the main security role in Iraq.
But the Status of Forces Agreement setting the June 30 deadline leaves a lot of discretionary decisions to the Americans. Lieut. Col. Drake Johnson, 39, a liaison officer with the Iraqi police, could have termed the patrol a “force protection” mission, not a “combined patrol.” In that case, only Americans would’ve been walking the route.
That’s one reason on Tuesday, when Iraqis wake up, they will still see U.S. soldiers and Marines on patrol and in convoys. That’s why some Iraqis — like the one who yelled at the patrol, “Hey, it’s too bad you guys will be leaving soon!” — may be disappointed with the profile, the footprint, that the Americans will still display in Iraq.
But at least in some cases, the pullback won’t be far over the horizon. The 2nd Brigade, for instance, has relocated its forces only five to seven miles from their original bases, back to Camp Victory in southwest Baghdad. Other U.S. units across Iraq will indeed disappear from urban landscapes, settling in giant forward operating bases.
And if Iraqi forces get in trouble, all they have to do is ask. The American’s quick reaction forces are poised to provide many kinds of help, from bomb-sniffing dogs to unmanned aircraft surveillance to helicopter gunships.