Local Vets React to President's Iraq Strategy

Military advisors to help Iraq battle terrorists.

Local Vets Reacts to President's Iraq Strategy

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Wes Maroney was working for the Santa Barbara County Marshal's Office when his National Guard unit was activated and called to duty for the start of Operation Desert Storm in January of 1991.

Maroney deployed again with his MIlitary Police unit to Iraq in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I'm very concerned over what's going to happen to that country", Maroney told Central Coast News Thursday afternoon, "we put a lot of time and effort into it to make it somewhat like ours and to see it just falling apart and their soldiers running away is just devastating to me."

Maroney says his emotions go beyond heartbreak.

"I've known a number of people who died there (Iraq) trying to give that country its own freedom", Maroney says.

Maroney says President Obama's plan to send non-combat advisers to Iraq to help the Iraqi military battle the terrorist insurgency isn't enough to turn the tide.

"We don't need to train right now, its too late", Maroney says, "we need to just send in some Air Force and Navy and support them in the air that's what they need."

"What comes to mind is Vietnam and the military advisers that were initially sent in there", says former U.S. Army Officer, Pentagon Staff Assistant and retired FBI Agent Dan Payne, "we've had military advisers in Iraq and we saw how far that got us when three divisions just automatically folded, when 30,000 troops gave up their uniforms and weapons and booked."

Payne, who teaches political science at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, shared his thoughts on President Obama's plan for Iraq.

"Its a cautious plan, it gives the United States enough room to roll with the ever changing scenario over there", Payne says, "it puts pressure on the current Iraqi President to do something, and he's going to have to embrace the other interests in his country if he hopes to survive,  and by that I mean the Sunnis and the Kurds, he hasn't done that in the past and that's one of the problems they have right now."

"This has been going for a millennium in that part of the world", Payne says, "you are not going to correct it on a dime, its going to take years and years if it ever comes to that."

Payne says he not against sending in U.S. Military Advisors.

"You can put in military advisors, its probably a feel good move, it helps us in a way, because we have our own intelligence, our own people, they can properly evaluate the system and getting it filtered through some forward process", Payne says about the military advisors, "a lot of them will have battlefield knowledge, they can say you know if this gets attacked, this is the way you should deploy your forces, most effective way is to deploy these weapons here, these weapons here, and give them tactics of war and urban warfare because a lot of this is urban warfare. You've got the enemy mixed with a civilian population, how do you separate who's friendly and who's the foe?"

For his part, Wes Maroney says he's hopeful the tide can turn in Iraq's favor.

"Its a lot of tribal stuff is what's happening", Maroney says, "till they can just finally settle down and say you know what, we're all Iraqis no matter which,  Sunni or Shia, we need to work together."

"In some cases we taught their (Iraqi) Special Forces to be just like our Green Berets and Rangers", Maroney says, "they are probably more of the elite troops that won't stand aside."

"Its not over until they take over Baghdad", Maroney says, "if they take over Baghdad then yes, its over."


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