Voinovich: Bush should redefine mission in Iraq

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Republican US Senator George Voinovich says a change in the Sunni mindset made the troop reduction possible. He says less American presence is needed because the sect is willing to fight al-Qaeda insurgents. But he also says the military can no longer sustain the current number of troops in Iraq.

“We don’t have them. That’s the other part of this thing. We don’t have them. I’ve talk to, all during August vets and families constantly saying to me ‘Senator this is the third or fourth tour of duty. No time off.’ And I think General Petraeus and the army understands, our defense department, that this is the situation we have,” he said.

Voinovich says the Bush administration needs to develop a plan to gradually end the war that would redefine the mission and include more Iraqi participation.

“We need a comprehensive plan that will provide reductions in the beginning, a redefinition of our mission that will ultimately allow us to continue to reduce our forces there and an increase, a robust increase in the participation by the Sunnis, Shiites and the Kurds,” he said.

Voinovich says presidential candidates should not base their campaigns on promises to end the war. He says he wants to focus on doing the right thing for the country instead of securing Republican control of the White House.

“This is not a political issue. Ok? The trouble is too much republican and democrat. This is an issue that all of us are concerned about on a bipartisan basis. Ok? And I think it’s been politicized too much on both sides of the aisle,” he said.

During a recent trip to Columbus, Democratic US Senator Sherrod Brown said he expects enough republicans to join democrats calling for a timeline to withdraw. Voinovich says a fast troop withdrawal would be disastrous and he would not support legislation for an exit within a year.

“The legislation I’ve got and I’ve been circulating; it defines the mission as to specific things I think need to continue to be done. I think that anyone that would say we would be out of there in a year that would be precipitous. That would be a disaster,” he said.

Voinovich traveled to Iraq last month.

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