Early Monday evening (9/22/14), on the eastern end of Long Island, GOP congressional candidate, Major in the Army Reserves, and Iraq War Vet, Lee Zeldin debated incumbent Democrat Congressman Tim Bishop. In critiquing President Obama’s newly unveiled strategy in the “war” against ISIS, Zeldin recalled his experiences as a member of the 82nd Airborne.
Regarding the Iraqi troops he said, “It is a victory to get them to show up for work. To expect this element that won’t show up for work to bring the fight to destroy ISIS on the ground….is entirely unrealistic. I do not trust the Iraqi leadership to lead our people”.
Watch for more prescient comments:
Within a few days of Bishop pompously bristling at the Major’s assessment, a series of troubling stories began circulating out of Iraq.
Max Boot reported, “ ISIS attackers in Anbar Province, Iraq, reportedly killed more than 300 Iraqi soldiers after a weeklong siege of Camp Saqlawiya where some 800 soldiers had been trapped. Few if any Sunni tribal fighters did anything to prevent yet another large Iraqi army formation from suffering annihilation. The Iraqi army showed itself unable to supply its soldiers or to fight effectively.”
Wednesday, Yahoo News also picked up the story and painted an even darker picture. They report the battle, that took place just 30 miles west of Baghdad, cost the lives of between 400 to 600 Iraqi soldiers. A soldier trapped in the camp said food, weapons, and ammo were in short supply, while forces struggling to help were unable to effect a rescue. Yahoo wrote, “The heavy losses revealed once again the parlous state of the Iraqi army, which is riven by endemic corruption and low morale, and which crumpled this summer as Islamic State took control of roughly a third of the country.”
Even more recently CNN chimed in that, “A handful of survivors who escaped from Saqlawiyah, which had been under siege for a week, accused the Iraqi government of failing to respond to pleas for help in the days leading up to Monday’s final ISIS assault on the base. The report has raised questions about whether the Iraqi military can defeat ISIS on the ground even with help from the United States and its allies in the air.” The Iraqi Prime Minster has promised an investigation as to why his “soldiers were left to fend for themselves.” Maybe he should ask Lee Zeldin.
So, during the Hampton’s Debate, featuring Congressman Tim Bishop against Army reservist Zeldin, the latter treated the audience to an insightful if troubling view of President Obama’s “war” strategy.
While a disapproving Bishop looked on, Major Zeldin gave a frightening analysis of the Iraqi Army’s weakness….that was proven absolutely prophetic by tragic events in subsequent days.