Gilchrest seeks Iraq exit strategy

The Hill

Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (Md.)

Last week became the fourth Republican to co-sponsor a measure that calls on President Bush to develop and implement an exit strategy for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Wounded as a platoon leader in Vietnam, Gilchrest was decorated with the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Navy Commendation Medal.

His endorsement of Rep. Neil Abercrombie's (D-Hawaii) resolution, which has not yet been posted formally on Congress's legislative website, suggests that there is growing concern in the GOP ranks about Iraq.

Recent polls show that the public is becoming increasingly uneasy about the U.S. involvement there.

Abercrombie's bill now has 29 co-sponsors, including Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Jim Leach (R-Iowa.). The resolution proposes the withdrawal of U.S. troops beginning in October 2006 but does not set a firm timetable.

Gilchrest, a conservative in his eighth term, told The Hill that the administration's argument against the resolution is "faulty." While some Republicans in Congress and the White House say that it would provide valuable information to terrorists in Iraq, Gilchrest said the resolution would show the Arab world that the United States is not going to have a permanent presence in the Middle East.

"We need to send a signal to the reasonable Arab world in a very pragmatic way," Gilchrest said. "We will not abandon the Iraqis and we will not abandon the war on terror."

Bob Cusack