Wednesday, September 12, 2007

In Iraq, Latham Warns Of "Retreat and Defeat'

U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, says he plans to use his third trip to Iraq to talk with American troops and local citizenry in areas that “are not stabilized” to better understand the “progress” of the American mission there.

“The reason I’m in-country is to make that evaluation,” Latham told Iowa Independent and other media during a conference call today.

Latham, speaking from Baghdad just after 10 p.m. there, said reports indicate progres in some communities with stemming terrorist or insurgent attacsk but that he wants a more complete picture before meeting with Iowans to present his findings.

The Iowa congressman characterized some calls for complete combat withdrawal as “retreat and defeat” maneuvers that he believes could be dangerous for troops.

Latham said he supports reducing the troops at perhaps even a faster pace than what General David Petraeus has called for in recent congressional testimony.

“But we need to do it from a position of winning and strength and not retreating in defeat,” Latham said.

Specifically, Latham said public proposals, such as the high-profile one presented by Democratic presidential candidate Baracak Obama today calling for immediate drawdown, can have a negative impact on servicepeople.

“It cetainly does with the people that I have talked to, the Iowans on the ground over here, especially when they realize the progress and have seen first-hand the progress that’s being made,” Latham said. “But having said that I want to get a larger evaluation of the picture over here tomorrow and when talking to troops who are not in a more stabilized area.”

Latham told reporters he could not release specifics on locations in Iraq he planned to visit to get a better sense of life on the ground.

The congressman said he would visit Pakistan as well and Afghanistan before returning home.

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