Obama announces pullout of troops from Iraq

ROTC students at Biola respond to the president’s decision to end Operation Iraqi Freedom.


A Biola student in the Army ROTC program salutes.

Michelle Orgill, Writer

President Barack Obama’s decision to end combat mission in Iraq has not affected Biola’s Army ROTC program, but some students are still critical of the president’s decision.

In his Aug. 31 speech, Obama ordered that combat missions end in a step toward a full withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of next year. The withdrawal is mandated in a U.S.-Iraq security agreement.
“Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country,” Obama said in his speech.

Obama said the end of combat missions is a part of a transition time as troops leave and let Iraq begin to live on its own. Troops will still assist in security forces and protect the people as Iraq works on its government and other disputes.

“Ending this war is not only in Iraq’s interest – it is in our own,” Obama said. “The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home.”

Some ROTC students said they believe Obama’s decision may not be in their interest.

“Although the war in Iraq is officially over there are still soldiers there and I believe that the work there is not finished,” said sophomore ROTC student Jessie Webster. “I am not sure that the president has made the right decision in ending our involvement in project Iraqi Freedom like this. That will become evident in the months ahead. However I am a little concerned for the safety of our men still in the field and what the consequences of this decision will be.”

The ROTC recruiting office at Cal State University, Fullerton said it is unaffected by the president’s announcement.

“Factors that have historically made Army ROTC a path by which young men and woman become officers remain the same,” said Minerva Rodriguez, recruiting operations officer at CSU Fullerton. “Duty, commitment and honor to serve their country are just as strong now than they were before.”

ROTC has grown since Sept. 11, but admission to the advanced course is limited to students who meet all academic and physical requirements. An Army scholarship will pay for most tuition costs and school supplies and will also provide a monthly allowance of between $250 and $400.

Biola’s ROTC program is available to all Biola students through the Department of Military Science of CSU Fullerton. The curriculum includes physical fitness development, practical application of managerial techniques and classes in military history and tactics.

“For this year, our ROTC program continues to grow as it has in the past,” said Cindy Cole, of the Department of Veteran Affairs at Biola. “I have not seen any current affect in Obama’s decision at this point and it may be just too early to see the affects of that.”

Cole said ROTC enrollment has increased significantly over the last two years.

“In fall 2008 we had 110 cadets and this fall we are predicting about 180 cadets,” she said. “Army ROTC remains the largest single source of commissioned officers for the U.S. Army. It is the college elective that teaches the decision-making, management skills, leadership and discipline that will enhance the student’s future success in either a military or a civilian career.“

Other students were not sure of the affects.

“Since I only joined the ROTC program recently, I am unsure of the effects the combat mission in Iraq has had on the ROTC program,” freshman student Andrew Eichler said. “I don’t have any exact statistics, but there has been a steady increase in ROTC enrollment since 9/11, so it is possible that this could result in a gradual decline. But once again that is purely speculation.”

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