Monday, August 23, 2010

Odierno says Iraq failure could see US combat role resume

Middle East Online, Aug 23, 2010

Refusing to rule out a return to US combat missions

Top US commander in Iraq says American troops could remain in war-torn country beyond 2011.

By Andrew Gully – WASHINGTON

The top US commander in Iraq admitted Sunday that a “complete failure” of Iraqi security forces could oblige the United States to resume combat operations there, but he called this an unlikely scenario.

The last US combat brigade withdrew from Iraq on Thursday. On August 31 combat operations officially end and the role of the remaining 50,000 American troops switches to one of providing advice and assistance.

General Ray Odierno told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the ability of the Iraqi police and army to keep a lid on the violence was improving, but refused to rule out a return to US combat missions if things went sour.

Security advancements meant Iraq was on target to be able to handle its own security after 2011 when the remainder of the US troops are due to be withdrawn, the commanding general of American forces in Iraq said.

“My assessment today is they will be (ready),” he told CNN, speaking from Baghdad. “I think that they continue to grow. We continue to see development in planning, and in their ability to conduct operations.

“The Iraqi people are resilient. They want this. They want to have a democratic country. They want to be on their own. They want to be moving forward and be a contributor to stability in the Middle East.”

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