Commanders: Iraq Will Need U.S. Military Support For Another 10-15 Years

Maybe this will cheer up Bobby Gibbs: I'm not singling out Obama for this. I firmly believe that anyone we elected would have supported this endle

Maybe this will cheer up Bobby Gibbs: I'm not singling out Obama for this. I firmly believe that anyone we elected would have supported this endless war -- the economic and political systems of the elite are too intertwined for anyone to even think about ending it completely:

Reporting from Besmaya, Iraq —
Iraq will need U.S. military support for up to another decade to defend its borders because the Iraqi army won't be ready to guard the country when American troops leave at the end of 2011, according to U.S. and Iraqi commanders.

Commanders say they are reasonably confident in the Iraqi security forces' ability to keep order while facing insurgents or other internal threats. But when it comes to their capacity to protect against attacks from other nations, it is inconceivable that the Iraqi army will be able to stand alone by the time U.S. troops go home, said Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, commander of the U.S. military training program in Iraq.

Almost certainly, he said, there will have to be some form of continued U.S. military presence beyond 2011 — a tough sell for Americans eager to see a rapid withdrawal — to protect against external threats and to provide the training necessary to eventually bring the Iraqi army up to scratch.

The gravest concern may be Iraq's inability to defend its airspace in a region bristling with missiles and fighter planes as well as longstanding jealousies and a history of wars involving border disputes. The Iraqi government placed its first order for 18 U.S. F-16 fighter jets in March, but the earliest they're expected to arrive is 2013.

"I would say we're five years into a 10-15 year program," said Brig. Gen. Scott Hanson, who heads the U.S. mission in charge of training the Iraqi air force. "We're on a glide path, but we're not in the final stages of approach."

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