Previously pro-war Democrat calls for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq

A U.S. field commander in Iraq countered calls by a usually pro-military congressman for withdrawal of Americans fighting there Friday, while Democrats defended Rep. John Murtha as a patriot even as they declined to back his view.

"Here on the ground, our job is not done," said Col. James Brown, commander of the 56th Brigade Combat Team, when asked about Murtha's comments during a weekly briefing that American field commanders routinely give to &to=' target=_blank>Pentagon reporters.

Speaking from a U.S. logistics base at Balad, north of Baghdad, two days before his scheduled return to Texas, Brown said: "We have to finish the job that we began here. It's important for the security of this nation."

Brown's comments come as the administration of President &to=' target=_blank>George W. Bush is facing mounting criticism over the handling of the war in Iraq.

The withdrawal demand by Murtha, a veteran Democrat who once voted for the war, added a strong chord to an increasingly vocal anti-war chorus the Bush administration decried irresponsible at a time when U.S. troops need the full support of Americans. Some members of the House and Senate, looking ahead to off-year elections next November, are publicly worrying about a quagmire in Iraq.

"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency," Murtha, a longtime hawk on foreign and military affairs issues, said Thursday. "They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."

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Author`s name: Editorial Team