Nation/World

Fort Lewis leader to go to Iraq

Lt. Gen. James Dubik has sent tens of thousands of U.S. troops to war during his 2 1/2 -year tenure as commander of Fort Lewis, Wash., and I Corps. Now, his own deployment to Iraq will reunite him with some of those troops.

“I want to do my part on behalf of the soldiers I’ve commanded here,” Dubik said of his new job heading the command training Iraqi security forces, “but, again, I believe in the necessity of this war.”

He’s not referring exclusively to Iraq or the war on terrorism, but to what he explained during an hourlong media roundtable as a larger struggle against the global spread of a repressive and extremist ideology shared by the Taliban, al-Qaida and associate organizations.

“The enemy attacked us,” he said. “They have declared war on this country. They have declared that their goal is to weaken or dissolve our economy and change the way we live. And they’re doing it. This is a serious enemy that deserves our national attention.”

Nearly 110 service members assigned to Fort Lewis have been killed in Afghanistan, the Philippines and Iraq.

Dubik, 57, will relinquish command of the Army post to his deputy, Brig. Gen. William Troy, during a ceremony Monday morning. Troy will serve as acting commander until the Senate confirms Maj. Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr. as Dubik’s successor.

Dubik, who will become one of the three top generals in Iraq, said he opposes setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces, an issue that has emerged as a political battle between President Bush and Congress. Such a timetable, the general said, only serves to embolden the enemy and hamper progress in Iraq.

If the U.S. leaves without bringing security to the Middle East, he said, what’s to say another generation of soldiers won’t be fighting in a more complex, lethal and extensive war years from now?

“Everybody that is fighting wants the fighting to end, but the ending of the fighting is not an end in itself,” Dubik said. “We really, I think, as a nation, have to be careful.”

On the home front, Dubik offered thanks to Fort Lewis soldiers and their families for their sacrifices during multiple deployments and those to come with the recent extensions of tours in Afghanistan and Iraq from 12 months to 15 months.

The general said that in his new job, he will keep in close contact with the soldiers formerly under his command. He will arrive in Iraq in May and take over responsibility of the Multi-National Transition Security Command-Iraq the following month.

Two Stryker combat brigades from Fort Lewis will work alongside Iraqi security forces, and Dubik said he wants to hear the soldiers’ assessment of the Iraqis’ progress.

“I’ll go see those guys as fast as I can,” he said.



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