View Full Version : Two More Years Needed To Ready Iraqi Forces Despite Gains: General

07-21-2007, 07:51 AM
Two more years needed to ready Iraqi forces despite gains: general


Published: Friday July 20, 2007

US forces have "turned the corner" in Iraq's western al-Anbar province but it will take two more years for Iraqi forces to be ready to replace US troops, a senior US commander said Friday.

Despite the turnaround in what has long been the center of the Sunni insurgency, military officials said a 2,200-strong marine expeditionary unit brought into Iraq as part of a surge in forces has been extended for another 30 days.

Asked whether a drawdown of US forces could begin in Al-Anbar this year, Major General Walter Gaskin said the Iraqi security forces needed more time to gain experience, adding, "I don't see it happening overnight."

"I believe this could go another couple years in order to get this to there," said Gaskin, who commands US forces in western Iraq, including al-Anbar province.

"And that's not a political answer. That's a military answer on what it takes young men -- and get the leadership that they need -- to do what an army does," he said via video link from Iraq.

The general was asked whether that meant US forces would be needed at their currrent levels for two more years.

"I think that if you are talking about how soon can the size of the force change, I think that's something that we're going to have to discuss, and I think we will see the drawdown," he said.

"But I'm thinking that as we train with the Iraqi forces, as we evaluate their progress, it will take time," he said.

Gaskin is the latest in a stream of top-ranking commanders in Iraq to plead for more time while touting the progress being made with the additional 30,000 US troops sent to Iraq as part of the surge.

General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, must report to Congress September 15 on whether his "surge" strategy is working, but calls are mounting for a change of mission and sharp reductions in the 159,000-strong US force.

"There's still a lot of work left to do in Al Anbar. Al Qaeda in Iraq is still trying to make its presence felt. But I believe we have turned the corner," Gaskin said.

The general displayed a graph showing a steep decline in attacks in al-Anbar since January when tribal sheikhs began swinging toward the coalition against Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Insurgent attacks have traditionally surged during those months.

He said 98 attacks were reported in the week of July 12 to 18, compared to 428 the same week last year.

"It indicates that there's something significant (that) has changed from previous years. We have broken the cycle of violence," Gaskin said.

But Gaskin said the marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which was extended for 30 days, are needed to keep Al-Qaeda in Iraq from regrouping.

The unit will stay in Iraq until mid September, returning to its home base in San Diego, California by mid-November, a month later than scheduled, said Captain Pamela Marshall, the unit's public affairs officer.

"What the surge forces have allowed us to do is go and get them where they are," said Gaskin.

He recalled past offensives where cities like the provincial capital Ramadi were taken in bloody fighting only to have them slip back into the hands of insurgents when the marines moved out.

07-21-2007, 01:07 PM
Hmmm, two more years.... That's right after the next presidential election...

Do you think the election taunt from the GOP will be, "You don't want to quit, now that we're so close, do you?"

07-21-2007, 07:01 PM
They're planning on dumping it on the next Prez anyways.

Plus another Gen said it was more like 5-10 years which is more realistic.

07-22-2007, 12:27 AM
They have no reason to pull them out. They don't worry about what we say/do/think. They wrote off all of the checks and balances that were in place with executive orders. What possible reason do they have to stop before they are ready.