August 6, 2008 | Op-ed

Eight VFF Combat Veterans Return to Iraq to Conduct Extensive Policy Assessment

WASHINGTON, DC '“ Vets for Freedom (VFF) today announced that eight Iraq war veterans who are members of the organization will return to Iraq to assess conditions on the ground and analyze policy options for future U.S. military involvement. Next week they will return to the Iraqi cities where they once patrolled, to provide a true 'œbefore and after' perspective.

Success in Iraq demands a fact-based policy built on an objective assessment of conditions on the ground and the advice of U.S. commanders. Through this extensive review, VFF embeds will provide an informed understanding of the best future course for the United States in Iraq.

'œThe great danger is that policy becomes divorced from events on the ground. The only responsible course is to ensure that decisions on troop levels and other matters reflect the demands of the battlefield. To reduce forces ignorant of, or despite, the consequences would be to risk disaster,' remarked VFF Chairman Pete Hegseth.

Individuals participating in the embed in Iraq include Hegseth, David Bellavia, Joel Arends, Erik Swabb, Kate Norley, Shawn Bryan, Daniel Bell, and Ben Hayden. Biographies for these individuals, as well as where they will be embedded, may be found at, and additional details about the trip will be made available as schedules in Iraq are finalized.

The assessment will include a series of real-time updates from key strategic points in Iraq, with visits to Ramadi, Fallujah, Baqubah, Samarra, Baghdad, amongst others. Following the return of the group, VFF will issue a report to elected officials and the public with findings and recommendations.

The analysis of the group will focus on determining the depth and durability of recent gains, the troop levels required to achieve stability, the potential consequences of a rapid American withdrawal, the proper 'œconditions-based' metrics needed to measure the right balance of U.S. and Iraqi forces, the status of displaced people seeking to return to their homes, and the prospects for the return of al Qaeda to Iraq, among other issues.

'œSenator Obama has stated his intention to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq on a fixed timetable and without almost any consideration for facts on the ground and events in the region. A policy of effectively unconditional withdrawal from Iraq raises troubling questions. Through this on-the-ground assessment, members of VFF are committed to providing fact-based analysis of critical policy decisions,' concluded Hegseth.

For more information please visit the Vets for Freedom Back to Iraq website.