Gov. Jon Corzine is visiting Iraq
and other undisclosed places in the Middle East with Gov. George Pataki of New York, Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah, and Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski. The group will return to the U.S. on Saturday.
Corzine's trip began with a security briefing Monday at the Pentagon. He flew to Kuwait on Tuesday, meeting with top military brass and lunching with 81 soldiers of the New Jersey Army National Guard. Yesterday, he met with the New Jersey Army National Guard's 250th Brigade Support Battalion in Baghdad and toured Tikrit.
Speaking yesterday about the situation in Iraq, Corzine said “U.S. soldiers should not leave just yet” and expressed concern over the proxy war Iran is waging against the United States in Iraq.
Many Democrats, including Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, want the majority of American forces out of Iraq within a year. But Corzine said everything he saw on this trip convinced him that approach would be a mistake.
The governor said that from a strategic standpoint, he finds it difficult "to take a backing-away point of view that is sometimes debated." In fact, he believes more troops - especially help from Iraq - are needed.
Although the situation on the ground is precarious, he praised the troops for their high level of professionalism and called their spirits and morale "uplifting." There are more than 5,300 troops from New Jersey serving in Iraq, his office said.
Both Corzine and Maj. Gen. Glenn Rieth, the state's adjutant general, said New Jersey should be prepared for more National Guard troops to be called up for Iraq duty within the next two to three years.
Corzine also warned of a "growing and transparent" effort by Iran to help destabilize the country and "preposition" itself in Iraq in case the United States pulls out.
We are fighting the Long War against islamofascism and it is heartening to see Corzine recognizing the importance of the mission in Iraq to our country’s long-term security.