Troops Cheer Call
For Iraq Withdrawal
Governor's Call For U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq
Greeted With Standing Ovation At National Guard
(AP) A call by Puerto Rico's governor for a U.S.
withdrawal from Iraq earned a standing ovation from
a conference of more than 4,000 National Guardsmen.
Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila said Saturday that the U.S.
administration has "no new strategy and no signs of
success" and that prolonging the war would
needlessly put guardsmen in harm's way.
"The war in Iraq has fractured the political will of
the United States and the world," he said at the
opening of the 129th National Guard Association
general conference. "Clearly, a new war strategy is
required and urgently."
Acevedo said sending more troops to Iraq would be a
"By increasing the number of National Guard and
reserve troops, we put our soldiers in danger for
the umpteenth time since the beginning of the global
war on terrorism," said the governor, adding U.S.
territories and states need Guard reserves in the
event of natural disasters and domestic
Acevedo, a Democrat, has called on Washington to
withdraw troops from Iraq in the past, but has not
been a vocal critic of the war.
Col. David Carrion Baralt, the Guard's top official
in the U.S. Caribbean territory, said Acevedo
received a standing ovation.
"Maybe the (officers) were not expecting those kinds
of comments, but having a dialogue is the point of
conferences like these," Carrion said by phone.
The nonpartisan National Guard Association
represents nearly 45,000 current and former Air and
Army National Guard officers and petitions Congress
About 1,800 Puerto Rican guardsmen are stationed
overseas. It was not immediately clear how many were
deployed in Iraq.
"The daily death toll of Americans and their allies
has caused irreparable anguish here in Puerto Rico,
and throughout the country. The same could be said
for the people of Iraq," Acevedo said.
© MMVII The Associated Press