U.S. Embassy Swimming Pool, Baghdad
Despite a summer deadline to pull American combat troops from urban areas, thousands will stay in cities to support and train Iraqis, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said Saturday.
Even with the mandate in the recently approved U.S.-Iraq security agreement, there have been suggestions some troops would not leave urban areas. But Gen. Raymond Odierno was the first military leader to acknowledge some forces would remain at local security stations, as training and mentoring teams.
"We believe we should still be inside those after the summer," he said the sprawling U.S. base in Balad, north of Baghdad before welcoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates on a brief visit.
According to the NYT, he also questioned the final date for 2011.
Mr. Gates met with General Odierno for an hour later in the day and then was scheduled to return to Washington. Before the meeting, Mr. Gates held a question-and-answer session with American soldiers and reiterated the Bush administration’s pledge to the Iraqi government of a complete troop withdrawal by the end of 2011.
But General Odierno said Saturday, as Pentagon officials have said previously, that the agreement might be renegotiated with the Iraqi government.
“Three years is a very long time,” General Odierno told reporters.
And Gates didn't fire him on the spot, so it will be assumed he (and Bush, and Obama) are just fine with all this. I wonder what the various Iraqi factions will say? Viceroy Odierno just handed Maliki (and Obama) a big problem in the form of an "I am a US puppet" button and a target on his back. If Noor al-Napoleon doesn't say "no, the deal must be stuck to", and loudly, then the others will eat him alive.
On a wider stage, if the Bush administration doesn't rap Odierno hard then Obama will have blown some of his capital in foreign places before his administration can even begin because Odierno, a Bush appointee, has indicated that the U.S. will continue to try to bend treaties and deals all out of shape instead of sticking to its word. Yet another Bush administration spoiler.
Crossposted from Newshoggers