Iraq — U.S. Military On Track For Iraq Drawdown, Odierno Says

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2010 — The mil­i­tary is on track to meet its draw­down goals in Iraq, and there will be plen­ty of troops left until the end of 2011 to help Iraq become ful­ly inde­pen­dent, the com­mand­ing gen­er­al of U.S. Forces in Iraq said today.

U.S. Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of U.S. Forces Iraq
U.S. Army Gen. Ray­mond T. Odier­no, com­man­der of U.S. Forces Iraq, talks to the press dur­ing an oper­a­tional update brief at the Pen­ta­gon, July 21, 2010.
DoD pho­to by U.S. Air Force by U.S. Mas­ter Sgt. Jer­ry Mor­ri­son
Click to enlarge

“I feel very com­fort­able that we will be at 50,000, prob­a­bly by the last week of August,” Army Gen. Ray­mond T. Odier­no said dur­ing a Defense Writ­ers Group break­fast here fol­lowed by a Pen­ta­gon press brief­ing. Troop strength prob­a­bly will stay around 50,000 through next sum­mer, even though all U.S. forces are to be out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011, he said.

With 70,000 troops still in Iraq – down from 145,000 in Jan­u­ary 2009 — the mil­i­tary is on sched­ule to meet Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Sep­tem­ber draw­down goals, Odier­no said. And, the gen­er­al said, his com­mand also is ahead of sched­ule in draw­ing down its equip­ment. Forty thou­sand wheeled vehi­cles have left the coun­try – half bound for Afghanistan – and 1.2 mil­lion oth­er pieces of equip­ment have been moved out, account­ing for 95 per­cent of the equip­ment draw­down goal, he said.

At the height of the troop surge in 2007, the mil­i­tary had 608 facil­i­ties in Iraq, and now has 112, Odier­no said. The com­mand is on track to meet its goal of hav­ing 94 facil­i­ties in Iraq by Sep­tem­ber, he said.

“This is a sig­nif­i­cant inter­a­gency, inter­ser­vice endeav­or,” Odier­no said, adding that it is the largest U.S. mil­i­tary rede­ploy­ment since the end of the Viet­nam War. “It speaks to the capac­i­ty and capa­bil­i­ty of our lead­ers” in Iraq that the draw­down is on track, he said.

The remain­der of U.S. mil­i­tary assets planned for Iraq after Sep­tem­ber, Odier­no said, will be enough to con­tin­ue the mis­sion of advis­ing, assist­ing and train­ing, and also sup­port any lin­ger­ing secu­ri­ty chal­lenges even if there is an uptick in vio­lence. The mis­sion now is trans­form­ing to sup­port the State Department’s increas­ing pres­ence in Iraq, he said, not­ing he made the trip from Bagh­dad to Wash­ing­ton to dis­cuss the plan fur­ther.

The main chal­lenges left for Iraq’s inde­pen­dence are polit­i­cal uni­ty and finan­cial sol­ven­cy, the gen­er­al said. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Iraq’s four major polit­i­cal groups fin­ished very close in last March’s nation­al elec­tions, mak­ing nego­ti­a­tions over lead­er­ship dif­fi­cult, he said.

The new gov­ern­ment needs to reflect the wish­es of vot­ers and be inclu­sive of all of Iraq’s eth­nic groups, Odier­no said. He added that the Kur­dish region of north­ern Iraq remains the most ten­u­ous and the north­ern city of Kirkuk prob­a­bly will be the last place U.S. troops depart.

“We clear­ly want a uni­ty gov­ern­ment,” the gen­er­al said, “and I think there is no choice in that. To be suc­cess­ful, Iraq must have a uni­ty gov­ern­ment.”

Iraq is chal­lenged by out­side inter­ven­tion in its polit­i­cal progress, espe­cial­ly from Iran, Odier­no said. He added that Iran con­tin­ues to train insur­gent groups inside Iraq.

Iraq also has to improve its econ­o­my, Odier­no said. About 95 per­cent of its rev­enue comes from oil, he said, but it will take Iraq anoth­er three to five years to pro­duce enough oil to enable the coun­try to become finan­cial­ly sol­vent.

Mean­while, Iraqi offi­cials are frus­trat­ed because there has­n’t been more out­side invest­ment in the coun­try, Odier­no said. How­ev­er, more for­eign invest­ment in Iraq will occur, he said, as Iraq’s legal sys­tems solid­i­fy.

Odier­no said it is impor­tant for the Unit­ed States to con­tin­ue to sup­port Iraq even after all U.S. troops leave there.

“It’s in our best inter­est that we con­tin­ue to sup­port them,” the gen­er­al said. “We could have a great out­come” of sta­bil­i­ty in the Mid­dle East, and a part­ner­ship with a key play­er.

“We have to be care­ful we don’t run away from them,” he added.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →