Several of Long Island's military families and a number of veterans expressed concern Monday over President Barack Obama's announcement that the United States is on track to draw down its combat troops in Iraq.
"I hate to see the troops there, but if we have a problem there, we have to stay," said Albert Furst, 66, of Plainview, whose son returned two weeks ago from a tour in Iraq with the Marines. "I don't recommend we should withdraw troops. [Obama] should listen to what the generals tell him and don't play politics with this."
The plan calls for U.S. combat troops to withdraw by the end of the month, with all U.S. troops leaving Iraq by the end of next year, The Associated Press reported. The 50,000 troops that remain after August would focus on training Iraqi security forces, counterterrorism and supporting U.S. civilians there, AP said.
"I believe in finishing what we started," he said. "And cut-and-run is not the way to do it."
Tanner said a premature exit from the war-torn country could cause parents of fallen U.S. troops to feel their children died in vain.
"We lost a lot of soldiers over there and we're still losing soldiers over there," he said. "As a parent, one would ask, 'Why did my son die, and what for? What did we accomplish?' "
The United States needs a concrete plan for what happens next, said Frank Colon Jr., commander of the Nassau County American Legion and a retired Army sergeant.
"You have to have a mission accomplished, period," Colon said. "It's completing the mission and getting an endgame so we don't have to go back. Get the country on its feet."
But Janene Gentile, 57, of Miller Place, said she had been hoping that Obama would act on his campaign promise to send the troops home. Her son, a Marine reservist, served in Iraq in 2005.
"I don't think we're walking away saying, 'We give up,' " she said. "We're walking away saying, 'Hey, we're willing to help you take care of your country and your needs.' "