2 years, 10 months ago
General Ray Odierno has stated concern over the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq, saying that U.S. funding will still be needed for the ISF. Iraqi officials have stated their needs more clearly and comprehensively than that.
The Iraqi army will require American support for another decade before it is ready to handle the country’s security on its own, Iraq’s army chief of staff told AFP on Wednesday.
Lieutenant General Babaker Zebari said Iraq’s politicians had to find a way to “fill the void” after American troops withdraw from the country at the end of next year under a bilateral security pact.
“At this point, the withdrawal (of US forces) is going well, because they are still here,” Zebari said.
“But the problem will start after 2011; the politicians must find other ways to fill the void after 2011, because the army will be fully ready in 2020.
“If I were asked about the withdrawal, I would say to politicians: the US army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020.”
There certainly seems to be buyers remorse over the negotiated withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq. At least there is so among those who know anything. But as I have also pointed out before, while we cannot draw down too precipitously and need to keep a presence in Iraq for years to come, the real issue of importance is not so much numbers, but the Status of Forces Agreement that makes U.S. troops like prisoners under house arrest in their own FOBs. If Iraqi officials care about U.S. presence in Iraq, they will renegotiate the SOFA. First things first. Without a new SOFA it doesn’t matter how many troops the U.S. keeps in Iraq.