President Donald J. Trump on Thursday ordered the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani after the death of an American contractor and wounding of four U.S. troops in a rocket attack against a military base in northern Baghdad, Iraq, which housed U.S. troops.

Soleimani was also believed to have planned the New Year’s Eve attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which was carried out by Iranian-supported militia groups. The president said Friday there was intelligence Soleimani was also planning an imminent attack on American diplomats and soldiers and took the Iranian general out to prevent it.

Taking him out was not only the right decision, but it was long overdue, according to some retired Army generals in the Fort Hood Area.

“When I was commanding the Multi-National Division in Iraq in 2006, (Soleimani) was responsible for killing some of my guys in Baghdad,” said retired Gen. James Thurman, a Salado-area resident. “The president did the right thing — we need to defend this country and our people abroad, and (Soleimani) was responsible for the recent attack on our embassy.”

Thurman said that the U.S. cannot allow someone to attack one of our embassies and then do nothing about it.

“We need to defend this country and our people abroad,” he said. “And it’s important for all of us not to second guess what’s going on. We don’t know everything (leading to the president’s decision to kill Soleimani), so we have to be careful not to judge the people in jobs such as the president or secretary of defense. We just don’t have all the facts.”

Thurman’s fellow general officers agree with him. Retired Lt. Gen. Pete Taylor, of Harker Heights, said killing Soleimani was the right move because he was an immediate threat to American lives.

“Soleimani was obviously a bad person and the world is better off without him,” Taylor said. “I’m not sure what it does long term strategically (for the U.S.), but time will tell. We’ll have to see what additional things happen.”

Retired Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk, a Gatesville resident, said Soleimani was responsible for more than just the deaths of 608 American service members and the wounding of thousands more in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

Those numbers were released in April 2019 by Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran, during a State Department briefing.

“He was a flagrant terrorist — he flaunted it,” Funk said. “He was not a national leader, he was an international terrorist. Anyone whose kids were over there (in Iraq), this guy had a price on their heads. The higher their rank, the higher the price.”

Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in places such as Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and many other countries, Funk said. He also killed many of his own people in Iran — anyone who opposed the Iranian regime.

“He was a butcher who turned on his own people,” he said. “On this, everyone should stand and say the president made the right decision.”

When it comes to the possibility the Iraqi government may ask the U.S. to remove all troops from the country because of the killing of Soleimani, the general said it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“Fine, let’s get out of there,” Funk said. “We’ve done our best for them. This just gives us cover to leave if we want to.”

dbryant@kdhnews.com | 254-500-7554

dbryant@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7554

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