“It really is a sovereignty day. I agreed with Maliki. It is a very important day in our history. But we are still worried about security. We hope that our forces will be able to handle security. The way will be a long one.” - Balqis Eidan, a 30-year-old state employee
There's a lot of discussion around the US pull out of Iraqi cities today. Iraqi President Maliki has declared today a day of celebration. Iraqis, who haven't had much of a reason for national pride, might enjoy today. Of course, insurgents who are very desperate to gain attention (and credibility from the media) will try to disrupt the "celebration".
I believe that General Odierno does not get enough credit for the Surge and the way Iraq has changed over the last two years. There are also a large number of strategic corporals and captains to thank for the progress. I also think that there are a lot of Iraqis who deserve credit too.
That said, I did not agree that pulling out from all cities on the exact same day and time was a strategically sound idea. I would have liked to have seen a phased approach. The majority of the urban centers could have been turned over today without a problem and with a very reasonable assurance that the Iraqis could handle their own security. But there are a few hot spots that might need our attention - Sadr City being just one.
GEN Odierno might feel the same way, but he has his orders and he has his plans to enact.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all people who strive for a secure Iraq today.
Update: Here's an Al Jazeera broadcast about today from an embed in Mosul.