Back from his command of Multi-National Corps-Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno spoke at The Heritage Foundation today on the future of Iraq. Responding to a question from Josh Levy about whether the United States would need to have 100,000 troops in Iraq for the next 10 years, Odierno warned:
What you can’t have is sudden changes. It is something that takes time. And it has to be deliberate and it has to be conscious. You just can’t say “Well starting next month we’re gonna change and we’re just gonna do training of Iraqi security forces. You can’t do that it has to be slow overtime.
Now contrast Odierno’s sober policy analysis with the promises coming from the leading presidential candidate from the anti-war movement:
Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.
Odierno was much more circumspect earlier in the Q&A when asked what the consequences would be of a dramatic draw down in troops along the lines promised by some presidential candidates. Odierno pointed out that a new president would not take office for ten months and that the situation in Iraq could change a lot by then. Odierno stressed that all he could ask for was an honest assessment of Iraq in light of a new administrations priorities in the region.
You can listen to the whole exchange here.