“It certainly isn’t a drastic failure, but we are now facing a major power vacuum in Iraq and dealing with a power vacuum of this magnitude is a very serious matter.”Ouch!
The logistical hello about trekking tons of gear and troops to Kuwait to load up and ship out also presents ops for enemies to claim they ran Great Satan out of Dodge - not unlike a Saigon redux:
"Late afternoon, a large convoy of nearly 200 vehicles approached the bridge spanning the Euphrates near the town of Abu Sukhayr, around 11 miles SE of Najaf. Roughly half the convoy had crossed the bridge, at which point Shi'ia militia forces opened fire with small arms and Anti Panzer Guided Munitions (ATGMs) on the convoy from both sides of the river. Simultaneously, a dozen or more IEDs were detonated.
A firefight ensued between Great Satan's troops caught on both sides of the river and elements of the Mahdi Army. Fighting raged into the evening and throughout the night, as Army attack helicopters and Air Force strike aircraft rushed to assist the convoy's defense.
Around 2300 hours, as the convoy's soldiers manned a "thin green line" defensive perimeter at both ends of the bridge, a heliborne rapid reaction force arrived, landing some 500 soldiers 2 miles from the battle scene. Shortly before 0200 hours that night the relief force broke through to the besieged force and enabled it to hold it's position against repeated militia assaults until morning, when a column of M1 panzers arrived - the lead elements of a brigade combat team, one of only two such units remaining in Iraq.
57 Americans died in the Stand at Najaf and over 300 were wounded. While it is not known how many militia causalities were suffered, independent estimates put the figure at about 2 thousand killed and twice that number wounded. 2 Americans earned the CMOH, others earned 3 Silver stars and 8 Bronze Stars that day for their heroism in battle which at several points witnessed massed charges by the militias and scenes of intense hand to hand fighting.
Much of the battle was videoed by the Mahdi Army. While the quality was poor owing to the fact that most of the battle took place at night, both the initial stages and the the aftermath - a long line of burning wrecked vehicles - were widely available on the internet and shown repeatedly on Arab television. Arab media, in particular, picked up on Mahdi Army's line: "America's Highway of Death."
Pic - "Not able to close the deal in Iraq is a serious mistake. Celebrating leaving with no troops behind is a serious mistake."