The Future of Iraq: A Conversation with General Raymond T. Odierno (video)

The Future of Iraq: A Conversation with General Raymond T. Odierno

February 16, 2010
Having spent the last three years in Iraq, General Raymond T. Odierno is uniquely aware of Iraq’s acute challenges and strategic opportunities. General Odierno has served as the Commander of U.S. Forces-Iraq since September 2008. He previously served as the Commanding General for the U.S. Army III Corps from May 2006 to September 2008, and therefore served as the Commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq during the Corps’ deployment from November 2006 to February 2008. General Odierno also commanded the 4th Infantry Division during its deployment to Iraq from April 2003 to March 2004. “He is noted for being one of few Army generals in history to command a division, corps and entire theater in the same conflict.”
On February 16th, the Institute for the Study of War hosted an event with General Odierno at the Army and Navy Club. General Odierno offered his insights into Iraq’s evolution since the Surge, the political challenges facing Iraq this year, the security challenges that the American drawdown will pose to Iraq, the policies of Iraq’s neighbors, and the potential for long-term success.
Please see transcript link above.



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<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR<br />
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&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;February 16, 2010<br />
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&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Army and Navy Club<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;901 17th Street, N.W.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Washington, D.C.&nbsp; 20006<br />
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&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;P R O C E E D I N G S</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL KEANE:&nbsp; Good morning, everyone.&nbsp; I'm Jack Keane, and on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Institute of War and our CEO Kim Kagan, welcome.&nbsp; We're delighted to have you here.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We've been at war in Iraq and now in transition for seven years and for -- except for some brief interruption, General Ray Odierno has been involved in just about every aspect of that which is pretty remarkable as a division commander and as corps commander and as multinational force commander and now the Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Some people don't truly appreciate the level of commitment senior generals have.&nbsp; They don't want anybody patting them on the back for it, but to spend six out of the last seven years away from your family is pretty significant commitment and that's what this general's been doing, and when the final history and chapter is written on Iraq, he's going to be a large part of it, that's for sure. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I was over at the British Embassy a year and a half ago and the Chief of Defense after dinner made a statement which I totally agree with but coming from was more profound. He said, &quot;Counterinsurgency has always been the corn in the realm for the British Military, given 150 years of struggling with insurgents, and we sort of think we had a corner on the market until what the Americans did in Iraq as a result of their counterinsurgency strategy put in with the additional forces from the surge.&quot;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;He said, &quot;We have to go to school on that to understand how we can make a turnaround, which normally takes many years and do that in months, which is somewhat unprecedented.&quot;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And the General behind me here put together the operational plan to do that, was an advocate for the change to the strategy, put together the operational plan that he and General Petraeus executed, but it was he and his staff that did the details on all of that and it is truly a remarkable piece of work that many people to this day still don't understand what happened and how it happened.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And now he's overseeing the transition in Iraq which is key.&nbsp; As we all know, the stability of Iraq is key to the stability of the region itself and General Odierno's contribution with that and working with our embassy, our ambassador and working with Prime Minister Maliki has been crucial these last months as they execute the Status of Forces Agreement but even more significantly than that execute the Strategic Framework Agreement which establishes a long-term partnership between the United States and Iraq.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So it's my pleasure to introduce General Ray Odierno who I've known for many years and is a dear friend and we're so thankful to have him in the United States Military.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; General Odierno, thank you very much for coming to join us today and as General Keane said, it is a great honor for us at the Institute for the Study of War to have you here and a greater honor because of all that you have contributed to our success in Iraq, the extraordinary operations that you have conducted at every command echelon, and for the extraordinary support that you've provided to those of us who are studying Iraq, and who are really interested in its outcome, and so before we start, I actually want to give you your thank you gift on behalf of the Institute for the Study of War.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I know that you're aware that you've participated in interviews for the surge, the whole story, the documentary film that we put together to describe what happened in Iraq in 2007 and in particular the extraordinary operations that you and your staff conducted, and this is available on and iTunes, but I think that for your work, you should certainly get a free copy.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Thank you very much.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Thank you.&nbsp; Thank you, Kim.&nbsp; I appreciate it very much.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I actually have Kim at a disadvantage because she's usually jet lagging when she comes to see me in Iraq.&nbsp; So she has the advantage today because I'm jet lagging now.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Well, if you need some coffee just wave, we'll work that out.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Our format today is, of course, a discussion and conversation format.&nbsp; I have lots of questions for General Odierno.&nbsp; We're going to start talking about what's going on in Iraq and then at intervals throughout the course of the discussion we'll open it up to questions on the same subject that we're talking about to make sure that we have a continuous flow of conversation about what's happening in Iraq.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And, honestly, General Odierno, I can't -- I can't think of a more critical moment to have you here in Washington.&nbsp; We're three weeks before Iraq's second and quite dramatic election for its new Parliament and therefore for its new prime minister and I think it's a critical time to be studying Iraq, to be thinking about Iraq's future and what really lies ahead.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And so my first question to you is, is Iraq on a path to political success?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I think -- I tell everyone that I think success and victory and all those kinds of things we won't know till three to five to 10 years from now, but I think we're still moving along the path that we have an opportunity in Iraq today that we might never get again in our lifetimes.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We have -- we are involved with the government.&nbsp; We have a relationship with the Government of Iraq that gives us an opportunity to develop a democratic Iraq that has a long-term partnership with the United States and I don't know if we'll have that opportunity again.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So I think it's important that we understand we have an opportunity today and that we have to take advantage of that opportunity. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We have gotten through many different steps forward that I think have gone better than expected.&nbsp; The implementation of the Security Agreement in 2009, I think everyone was nervous about it.&nbsp; I was a bit nervous about it as we went through it, but I would argue it's been a success.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We've turned over the responsibility for the entire security file to the Government of Iraq.&nbsp; We've reduced our forces in Iraq and they have been able to sustain and in fact continue to improve security over 2009.&nbsp; We can talk more about that later.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And, in addition, what we've seen is incredible development of the government.&nbsp; It's nowhere near as mature a government that we see in some other Western cultures for democracies but they certainly have made tremendous strides.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I remember sitting in their first National Security Council meetings back in late 2006 and I think about -- I was invited to one, we don't sit in them anymore, last Sunday, a week ago Sunday and I look at how it matured and the issues they were talking about and the solutions they were trying to come up with to solve some of the security issues.&nbsp; So you've seen the government grow over time.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So with that, I think they are on the right path, but this election will be important and we had successful provincial elections last year, but today, as we move towards the national elections, we are beginning to see how important these are.&nbsp; They are important to everyone in the region, they are important to the people of Iraq, and they're important to people outside the region because of the impact it could have on stability not only in Iraq but in the Middle East as a whole, and that's why I think we've seen so much attention paid to these elections coming up and what the new government will look like and where they will go.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I think that's all positive, but the next six months will determine how we go through that process and will the fragile stability we have in Iraq continue?&nbsp; I think it will, but it will be a very important period of time, these next six months, as we negotiate this.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Can you tell me a little bit more about what you think made the provincial elections successful really this time last year?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yes.&nbsp; I think, first off, security was much better.&nbsp; People, for the first time, voted on issues not based on necessarily sectarian issues.&nbsp; It was about do I have electricity, do I have water, do I feel more secure, who will do that for me and who will bring me those things, and we saw, of course, what happened was every incumbent got voted out, you know, which is a pretty interesting concept, and many surprises --<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;[Laughter.]</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Many surprises throughout Iraq when this happened.&nbsp; They didn't expect it, and I think people have learned from that and as we led up to the national elections, you have seen them try to discuss more issues that involve the people themselves.&nbsp; So I think that's the impact that's also starting to have on the national elections.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; What is the tenor of the political debate now inside Iraq?&nbsp; How would you characterize the kinds of campaigns and discussions?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, the campaign season just began on the 12th of February, on Friday, but there -- although that's the official campaign, there clearly has been maneuvering that's been going on.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;One of the things that's concerning to me now is in the early stages of this process, I think the story's been diverted a bit and I think it's been diverted trying to drive it more down the sectarian line which I think is unfortunate today, based on the de-Ba'athification, disqualification of some candidates.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;It's not the fact that we believe there shouldn't be de-Ba'athification because we all agree there should be de-Ba'athification, but it's about is it transparent, is it going by the Rule of Law, and so what's happened is the early part of the campaign process has turned in -- has turned into mainly about de-Ba'athification and trying -- in fact, in some cases driven some people towards back to sectarian issues.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What I think we'll see, though, as we get closer to the elections, I think we'll see a drive away from that and I think we'll see it return to what are the issues of the people which goes back to do I feel secure, am I getting the services I want, do I have the job I want, how is the economic development going, and how are these political leaders representing me regionally, and I think it will go back to those issues over time.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Who and what is actually driving the discussion toward de-Ba'athification and toward the sectarian --</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I mean, there's --</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; -- politics?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; -- lots of theories and everybody would have their own theory on this, but it's clear that, you know, there are -- there are many countries who have -- who have a lot at stake, depending on how Iraq turns out.&nbsp; Some of them -- I'm not going to name specific names, but some don't really want the democratic process to succeed because of the pressure it might put on their own government.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We have others who want to have a lot of influence over Iraq for many reasons:&nbsp; for the protection of their own nation, for the fact that they believe that they would like to see a weak government that they can control so they can better protect their borders and in many ways so they can control Iraq's development and they don't become a challenger to them in the future as a state on the rise.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So I think it's a combination of all those things. So you have these different agendas, some coming from Sunni Arab countries, some coming from -- from Persian Shi'a Arab countries who are -- who are trying to drive the elections a certain way, and so what we're seeing in the beginning is this sectarian divide.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What we want is we want it to come back together and be about Iraq, not about these other regional countries. It needs to be about Iraq. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I believe the people of Iraq know that and the polling that we're taking suggests that they know that.&nbsp; It's the politicians in Iraq yet that might not quite be there and that's -- that's what we hope will change here over the last month, three weeks of the campaign.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; What gives you confidence that -- that in fact the politicians will be able to -- to talk about issues and will be able to conduct their campaign on the basis of issues, when in fact the tenor of the campaign was set on the basis of sectarian politics?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I think again through -- I think that through the people pressuring them on what they want to talk about and they all read polls.&nbsp; There's many polls being conducted in Iraq, and all the polls are very clear to them what's important and -- and it's -- Number 1 is the economy, is jobs.&nbsp; Number 2 -- sound familiar?&nbsp; Number 2, although a bit different, is basic services, electricity, water.&nbsp; 3 becomes something like a better Iraq for my children and 4 is security and 5 are other things and that's basically how we see the polls playing out in Iraq.&nbsp; So I think ultimately it's going to have to drive towards that.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Now, I would also say, as I think most people know, this is a parliamentary system in Iraq and the elections really in many ways do not elect the prime minister or the president.&nbsp; What they do is they elect a parliament who will then in turn choose a prime minister and a president and we believe that no one will have a large enough majority that they will not be forced to form a coalition that involves more than two parties.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So how that negotiation begins after the elections themselves will also be extremely interesting, in fact probably be the most important part.&nbsp; Once the people vote for who represents them in Parliament, how then does that debate go after the elections.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; What are the things that we here in the United States should be looking for in that government formation process to know that it is going in a way that is healthy for the Iraqi state?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, what we have to do is protect the democratic process.&nbsp; And to me, that's the most important.&nbsp; What we need is when this election is over, people feel&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the people of Iraq feel that the democratic process served them, and that it was not hijacked by a few people that were able to push the democratic process in a certain way and it didn't work. &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So the worst case, in my mind, is they lose faith in the process itself because if that happens, that could really cause a struggle next year, the year after, the year after.&nbsp; If they believe the democratic process for the most part served them, I believe we're really on track to really move Iraq forward.&nbsp; And that's why I think that's the most important part. &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; One of the media themes that we have been getting from Iraq, echoing here throughout the United States, is that the United States has been too interventionist in the crisis over the banned candidates.&nbsp; And that has generally stemmed actually from one individual, and if you can't name him, I can.&nbsp; Ahmed Chalabi has been very active in the media, putting forth this thesis that Vice President Biden in fact was overly involved. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What role did the United States play in the candidate ban crisis?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, first, yeah, let me be clear.&nbsp; First, the Vice President, when he came&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; well, first, he didn't come over at all to intervene.&nbsp; The Vice President makes periodic visits about every 60 to 75 days.&nbsp; The President has given him responsibility for Iraq, so he makes regular trips.&nbsp; This was one of the planned trips.&nbsp; It did come at a time while the de-Ba'athification issue was at the center of attention in Iraq. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But what we talked about is exactly what I said.&nbsp; Our position all along has been that this is not about de Ba'athification, per se.&nbsp; By the Iraqi constitution, you have the right to work through de Ba'athification, disqualify anybody who's involved in the Ba'ath Party, or leanings toward the Ba'ath party, be disqualified from participating in the government.&nbsp; Nobody denies that. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;The important piece in a democratic process is that it's transparent, and it's according to the rule of law, and it's validated by the constitutional processes that were established in the constitution. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So what we try to is ensure that everyone understands that, and the fact that it becomes a transparent process, it's done by the rules of law as established by the constitution.&nbsp; And that's what we try to effect. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And so what was not clear, and probably today is still a bit unclear, what actually was the authority of this commission.&nbsp; What's the authority of those running it, and why were they able to do this, and was it according to the law?&nbsp; And that's what we wanted them to review. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So we wanted it to go through a review process.&nbsp; And it's still going through that process today.&nbsp; It's not completely through that process.&nbsp; But unfortunately, it happened right before the election, which was clearly planned very carefully by certain individuals, Ahmed Chalabi and others who, you know, I would argue are getting support by other nations who in fact are trying to push very specific agendas inside of Iraq.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Has the process then been transparent, or has it not been transparent?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I think we would all&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; our position hasn't been as transparent as we'd like it to be.&nbsp; For example, it's unclear:&nbsp; How did they come about this list?&nbsp; What was used to put them on the list?&nbsp; But at least now it has gone through a court, who has done some rulings.&nbsp; People have been removed from the list.&nbsp; People have been added onto the list. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But the whole process itself, in my mind, wasn't completely transparent to all those involved.&nbsp; And so I think that's one thing that I think still has to be discussed and talked about. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But what we don't want to do is, again, make this the only issue because when you come down to it, out of 6,190 candidates, it's going to turn out to be about 140 who were disqualified.&nbsp; So in my mind, yes, for those 140&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and really, probably, it's a handful who were probably really ever candidates to be part of the parliament&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; we don't want the election hijacked and pushed towards an issue that really is not the fundamental issue. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What we want is we want it to be about Iraq, the issues facing Iraq, and about the democratic process moving forward in Iraq.&nbsp; And that's where we want to drive the discussion now, is in that direction. &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Can you illuminate us on a technical question?&nbsp; We understand the ballots went to printing, went to press, in mid-January.&nbsp; So what is it that the average Iraqi is actually going to look at on election day?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, you have two documents.&nbsp; You have a ballot, and the ballot has all the political parties on it.&nbsp; Then you have a candidates list that's posted in every&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and it's done by province because the votes are by province. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So, in other words, different candidates run in different provinces.&nbsp; So it's about the candidates list that's posted in each one of the places&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; each one of the polling centers.&nbsp; When you vote, you have to first vote for the party.&nbsp; And then you can either choose to vote for a candidate or not choose to vote for a candidate. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So in reality, it's still about the party.&nbsp; But also, you can vote for a candidate, and then if a candidate gets a certain amount of votes, he then rises to be&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; he automatically gets selected. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;If they don't reach a certain number of votes, then the party gets to pick&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; if they win ten seats, they get to pick the top ten names on their list.&nbsp; So in my mind, again, we've allowed this argument about de Ba'athification to really drive this too far.&nbsp; And the impact actually on the election will be small. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So it's important for us now to move forward with the election itself.&nbsp; And oh, by the way, they can add names to the list all the way up to very close to when the election starts.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Let me turn to media questions about the election.&nbsp; Please.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Viola Gienger from Bloomberg News.&nbsp; You mentioned earlier on that this is an opportunity for the U.S. to be engaged and an opportunity that we may never get again.&nbsp; You seem to be suggesting&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; do you think we are engaged?&nbsp; Do you think the U.S. is engaged as much as it should be at this point, or is there more to be done?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah, I do.&nbsp; I mean, it's a very&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; yeah, thanks.&nbsp; I mean, it is a very complex issue.&nbsp; I mean, we are very engaged.&nbsp; We have 98,000 soldiers on the ground, sailors, airmen, and Marines.&nbsp; I consider that to be very, very engaged.&nbsp; We are spending billions of dollars in Iraq still today.&nbsp; We have the largest embassy in the world in Iraq.&nbsp; So we are engaged across several different levels. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;It's not today that I worry about.&nbsp; It's today.&nbsp; It's tomorrow.&nbsp; It's 2011.&nbsp; It's 2012, '13, '14.&nbsp; As everyone knows, all our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines will come out at the end of 2011.&nbsp; That doesn't mean our commitment needs to end. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;It needs to be a long-term commitment.&nbsp; The commitment just changes.&nbsp; It changes from one based on mutual security and cooperation, with us having forces on the ground, to one that's across the wide spectrum of governmental support&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; economic, diplomatic, security, environmental, educational.&nbsp; And it's how we invest in that that will be important. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And I think&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; so our challenge we have now is how we transition from a military-centric operation to a civilian-led operation, and then after 2011, how we continue to support Iraq's progress.&nbsp; And to me, that's what's very important here.&nbsp; And so that's what we have to make sure we stay engaged with. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I've said before, and the story I tell is about six months ago now my wife had asked me if I ever saw &quot;Charlie Wilson's War.&quot;&nbsp; I hadn't seen it.&nbsp; And so I watched it one night.&nbsp; And what worries me is the last scene of that movie, even though it's about Afghanistan, not about Iraq, if anybody hasn't seen it. &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But Charlie Wilson had gotten billions of dollars to fight the insurgency in Afghanistan against the Russians.&nbsp; And at the end, he went to get $2 million in order to start an education program in Afghanistan, and he couldn't get anybody to help him to support that program. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So what I worry about is we have to stay focused that everyone understands that 2011, '12, '13, '14, we have to continue to invest in Iraq.&nbsp; And it's in our best interest. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And it's not just about, well, Iraq has enough money to do it on their own; let them do it.&nbsp; It's about us staying engaged, influencing and helping to mold them as they go through this very complex&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the complex curves of setting up a democracy inside of Iraq.&nbsp; And so that's why I think it's important.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; We'll have time to talk about that at greater length.&nbsp; Elections-only questions, please.&nbsp; In the fourth row.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Tam Dolby, Financial Times.&nbsp; General, thank you very much indeed for doing this.&nbsp; I just really wanted to ask you about the scheduled drawdown to 50,000 because&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; No.&nbsp; We're not talking about scheduled drawdown.&nbsp; We're talking only about elections.&nbsp; Is there&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Well, I just&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; No.&nbsp; We're only talking about elections. &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Just because isn't it&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Is there any question specifically on elections?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; But it was premised&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; isn't that premised on the elections, and having a clean result, and having a government in situ very soon?&nbsp; I just wanted to see to what extent is that premised on a best case scenario, given the delay in elections and the delay that it takes to form a government by a best case scenario.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, right now, as I said a minute ago, we're about 98,000 inside of Iraq.&nbsp; And I have&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; as we built to this point, we built in some room for movement of the election.&nbsp; So the election today does not impact that.&nbsp; And it's given me&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; it gives us&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I've always said about 60 days following the elections is when we really need to do an evaluation to determine what security will look like. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So I have that room.&nbsp; I have contingency plans to make recommendations if it doesn't go well.&nbsp; I have contingency plans to make recommendations if it goes okay.&nbsp; And I have recommendations if it goes very well.&nbsp; And so we will to work our way through that. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I believe I have flexibility to at least make recommendations to the leadership on what we should do based on the situation on the ground.&nbsp; And that'll be something that we watch every day following the results of the elections. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Some people will say that they worry about this because, well, it took them five months to form the government last time.&nbsp; It's my assessment, though, within the first 60 days or so, we'll know if there's going to be a problem that's going to lead to some violent behavior that would require us to maintain more force. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;The last point I'd make to everyone is 50,000 soldiers is still a lot of U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines.&nbsp; There's still a lot of U.S. capability on the ground.&nbsp; And so it's not just we only have 50,000.&nbsp; It's that we have 50,000 on the ground.&nbsp; And I still think we can influence the outcome.&nbsp; Because I have a lot of confidence in the Iraqi security forces and their capability.&nbsp; They still need some support from us.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Elections questions.&nbsp; Elections.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; Two very quick ones.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Please introduce yourself.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Oh, I'm Bob Dreyfuss with the Nation magazine.&nbsp; One is Ali al-Lami, who was arrested by the U.S. a year and a half ago.&nbsp; And I was wondering if you could kind of clear up who this guy is and what his connections to Iran are and why he was arrested and why he was freed. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And sort of the related question is, I mean, you seem reluctant to talk about Iran's influence in Iraq.&nbsp; But a lot of people say that the fact that Maliki, you know, didn't cave in or exceed or agree with, whatever you want to do, with the American suggestions about transparency and other things indicates that Iran has a lot more influence as the U.S. drawdown approaches, and the U.S. has a lot less.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; Al-Lami is a Sadr'ist by trade.&nbsp; He was arrested after an operation in Sadr City where both Iraqi security forces, U.S. civilians, and U.S. soldiers were leaving a meeting that they had with the local government in Sadr City, and their vehicles were attacked with IEDs as they left the meeting. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;There were some accusations.&nbsp; We had some intelligence that said that al-Lami was the one who directed these attacks on these individuals.&nbsp; He was released in August of '09 as part of the drawdown of our detention facilities because we did not have the actual prosecutorial evidence in order to bring him in front of a court of law in Iraq.&nbsp; All we had was intelligence that linked him to this attack. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So, as we had some others, we had to release him.&nbsp; He has been involved in very nefarious activities in Iraq for some time.&nbsp; It is disappointing that somebody like him was in fact put in charge or has been able to run this commission inside of Iraq, in my opinion. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;He is&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; him and Chalabi clearly are influenced by Iran.&nbsp; We have direct intelligence that tells us that.&nbsp; They've had several meetings in Iran, meeting with a man named Mohandas, which is an ex-council representative member&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; still is a council representative member&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; who was on the terrorist watch list for a bombing in Kuwait in the 1980s.&nbsp; They are tied to him.&nbsp; He sits at the right-hand side of the Quds Force commandant, Qassem Soleimani.&nbsp; And we believe they're absolutely involved in influencing the outcome of the election.&nbsp; And it's concerning that they've been able to do that over time. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Chalabi, who&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; you know, has been involved in Iraqi politics in many different ways over the last seven years, mostly bad. &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; And [inaudible], is he connected to that?&nbsp; Or is that a separate story?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; I'm not going to&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; it's not clear, so I won't comment on that.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; I think that's something that I encourage you to talk about with Marisa Cochrane Sullivan on the basis of the wonderful work that she's done for ISW on Shi'a militia groups, all from open sources. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But I think that's actually an interesting transition to the question of Iranian-backed extremist groups.&nbsp; We have, in fact, dealt with groups such as Asaib al-Haq, the League of the Righteous, in the past.&nbsp; We have dealt with special groups backed by Iran. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What has happened to these special groups?&nbsp; And are the Iranians still backing violent proxies?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; What's happened is, over time, after the March 2008 Operation Charge of the Knights both in Basra and in Sadr City, where very successful Iraqi-led, U.S.-supported operations had a significant impact on militia elements, specifically the Shi'a militia elements, operating mainly in the south and in Baghdad, we saw a breakup of many of the militia elements. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But the result of that has been the establishment of some groups, two specifically&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Kataeb Hezbollah as well as the Promise Day Brigade&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; that continue to get funds and training inside if Iran in order to conduct operations in Iraq. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We still have EFPs explode just about every day in Iraq.&nbsp; We still uncover Iranian rockets and other goods that are made and individuals who are trained in Iran to conduct attacks against both U.S. and Iraqi security forces, I want to emphasize. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So this has been consistent.&nbsp; It's lower than it's been.&nbsp; I'll just take it a little bit further.&nbsp; Iran clearly has a strategy that goes across lethal aims, diplomatic aims, and then soft power aims, i.e. influencing people through investment in the economy and into some other practices inside of Iraq. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We support very much a good relationship between Iraq and Iran.&nbsp; They are neighbors.&nbsp; What we want it to be is the right kind of relationship, one that does not involve lethal action inside of Iraq, one that does not involve trying to gain undue influence over diplomatic and political leanings inside of Iraq.&nbsp; We want to see a relationship that's built on mutual trust and understanding, which we have not yet seen.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Does Iran actually respect the sovereignty of Iraq?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I mean, I would say since they conduct and support lethal actions inside of Iraq, it's clear that they don't.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; We had watched the beginning of a reconciliation process among Shi'a groups, and even Shi'a extremist groups such as the League of the Righteous.&nbsp; What's happened to that reconciliation process?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Asaib al-Haq is what we call them, and I did leave them out&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; that's another group that, over time, has been supported by Iran, by the way&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; is a group that there's been about an 18-month reconciliation process between the government of Iraq and Asaib al-Haq.&nbsp; It's one that's been worked very carefully by the government. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Asaib al-Haq declared a ceasefire back in May, I think, approximately, of '09.&nbsp; They for the most part had held to that ceasefire.&nbsp; They have elements&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; what you're now seeing is a splintering of that group.&nbsp; Some still want to go through the reconciliation process.&nbsp; Others are splintering back into violent access. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And so they claim the recent kidnapping of the Department of the Army civilian in Baghdad.&nbsp; I think these are splinter elements who clearly want to go back along the lines of lethal activity inside of Iraq.&nbsp; So as we always have, we work very closely with the Iraqi security forces to deal with this. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;One of the things that I've been most pleased with, which I want to make clear to everyone, is in Iraq, the Iraqi security forces have and still conduct significant operations in southern Iraq against these groups.&nbsp; Just a few days ago there was a significant operation in Maysan Province which piked up several individuals from Kataeb Hezbollah. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;There's been operations in Basra.&nbsp; There's been operations in Baghdad.&nbsp; There's been operations in all of the southern provinces, Iraqi security force-led, supported by U.S. forces.&nbsp; So they have shown&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the security force has shown the dedication to go after all target sets if they are enemies of the government of Iraq.&nbsp; And I think that's an important step as we move forward.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; And in the category of enemies of Iraq, is al-Qaeda in Iraq still a threat to the government of Iraq?&nbsp; Is it an insurgent group or is it a terrorist group?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, first, I believe the only way al-Qaeda in Iraq can be a threat to the government of Iraq is the government of Iraq lets it be.&nbsp; And I'll now explain that. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Al-Qaeda in Iraq, back in 2004 and 2005 and 2006 and 2007, was a broad-based insurgency that had permeated all of northern Iraq and central Iraq and was conducting significant operations throughout Iraq.&nbsp; Over the last&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; since the beginning of 2007 till today, we've been able to make significant progress against al-Qaeda in Iraq, significantly degrade their capacity.&nbsp; It is a shadow of what it once was. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So what they've done is they've transitioned it from a broad-based insurgency into a covert terrorist organization who focus solely on conducting high-profile attacks against the Iraqi people and against the governmental institutions of Iraq. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What is their goal?&nbsp; Their goal is they want to see the government of Iraq fail.&nbsp; And then they want to have ungoverned territory that can be filled by al-Qaeda and other groups that will allow them to maintain safe havens and sanctuaries.&nbsp; They are a long ways from that ever happening. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So what we see now that's frustrating to all of us there is they pick the softest targets possible to kill as many or wound as many civilians as possible because they want to see an overreaction from the government of Iraq.&nbsp; They want to see a miscalculation from the government of Iraq that could push Iraq back into some sort of sectarian violence or lose faith in its own government.&nbsp; They've been absolutely unsuccessful in doing that. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;All of our measurements&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; you know, we measure everything.&nbsp; And again, I don't&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; when things were bad in 2006/2007, I said it then and I'll say it now, is the number of incidents and the type of incidents don't necessarily define what Iraq is, but it is a point that you must consider. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And we have consistently continued to come down in every category, to include high-profile attacks.&nbsp; 2009 was about 60 percent less than 2008.&nbsp; And that's after turning over the security file to the government of Iraq.&nbsp; 2010 is continuing to either sustain itself or go down a little bit from 2009.&nbsp; So their capacity to sustain and do this over a long period of time and across the entirety of Iraq is no longer possible.&nbsp; But they can still do attacks. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;If I could just&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; since we're talking about it, I do want to really talk about security in Iraq itself.&nbsp; It's hard to describe this to anybody who's not there every day.&nbsp; But the basic security of Iraq is significantly different than it ever has been. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;When you go into Baghdad, if you go into Basra, if you go into Ramadi, if you go into Mosul, if you go into Kirkuk, if you go into any city in Iraq, you see significant improvement of the day-to-day lives of Iraqis.&nbsp; It's completely different than what it was two to three years ago.&nbsp; It's different than it was six months ago. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;You see an expansion of the economy.&nbsp; You see expansion of shops.&nbsp; You see traffic jams.&nbsp; You see all those things that talks about normalcy beginning to return.&nbsp; That normalcy today, though, is broken up sometimes by these high-profile incidents. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But the reaction of the Iraqis has been exactly what we'd like to see.&nbsp; They condemn al-Qaeda.&nbsp; They say the best way to fight this is to vote in a democratic process, bring a leadership in to continue to go after these elements.&nbsp; We continue to see that theme across Iraq. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;They've rejected al-Qaeda.&nbsp; Iraq as an Arab nation has rejected al-Qaeda.&nbsp; And they don't want al-Qaeda inside of Iraq.&nbsp; That's a huge, huge statement.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; As we look at security in Iraq, obviously our thoughts naturally turn to the Iraqi security forces.&nbsp; And I would certainly like to ask you whether you think that the Iraqi security forces are capable of maintaining security against internal threats.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; I mean, I think, first of all, they have had the lead now for security for about a year, but specifically since July of 2009 when we came out of the cities.&nbsp; We are still&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; first of all&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and they continue to still improve, but they show the ability to plan.&nbsp; They show the ability to execute. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We still have some modernization that has to occur in the logistics side of the force.&nbsp; We still have some modernization that they need for their Air Force.&nbsp; We still have some modernization for their Navy that has to take place so they can protect their oil platforms, the center of their economic development. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But they are continuing to see constant improvement.&nbsp; So I truly believe by 2011 they will be able to do internal security on their own.&nbsp; And I believe they'll have foundational external security, but not complete ability to protect themselves from any external threats, by 2011, which will&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; we will have to have a continued commitment to assist them in developing that capacity.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; What is it that the Iraqi security forces now do in order to maintain internal security, and who does it?&nbsp; That is to say, is it the Iraqi Army now that is actually maintaining order inside Iraq, or is it the various police agencies that are maintaining order?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; It's a combination of all.&nbsp; And it depends on what part of the country you're in.&nbsp; And I'll give you a few examples. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;If you talk about Kirkuk, Kirkuk has police primacy.&nbsp; Security in Kirkuk is maintained by the police.&nbsp; The Army is outside of the city.&nbsp; In Ramadi, internal to Ramadi, security is done by the police.&nbsp; The Army is outside of the city.&nbsp; In Basra, security is done by the police.&nbsp; The Army is outside of the city. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;In Baghdad, you still have the Army inside of the city, and the federal police, which is a paramilitary, Carabinieri-type organization that helps to supplement the police.&nbsp; In Mosul, the Army is still required to help with security.&nbsp; but slowly, the police are taking over more responsibility. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So in a large portion of Iraq, we have police primacy.&nbsp; But there's still some key areas&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Baghdad, Mosul, Diyala Province&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; where we still have the Army play a significant role in providing security in the cities and in the provinces themselves.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Is the Army of Iraq a politicized army?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; I would say that it is moving away from being one.&nbsp; The way we define&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; let me go backwards and just talk about the fact that what we look at is a competent, capable, professional army.&nbsp; That's what we're trying to develop. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We have developed a competent and capable army.&nbsp; We are making progress towards the professional.&nbsp; What do I mean by professional?&nbsp; When I talk about professional, I mean about an army who's dedicated to its constitution and the implementation of its constitution, and in no way supports a political party or an individual.&nbsp; They support the office. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I think the large majority of them are professionalized to support the constitution, but we are not there yet.&nbsp; We still have some work to do.&nbsp; There are many within Iraq&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I believe it'll take five to ten years, a generation, to get through this because Iraq has been run for a long time based on political favoritism.&nbsp; And culturally, it's kind of what they've done.&nbsp; They are trying to break themselves of this, but it still plays a role inside of Iraq. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And I think one of the roles that we play today is we are the checks and balances against the politicization of the military.&nbsp; I have a conversation about this all the time with many different leaders. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And it's not necessarily&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and I want to make this clear&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; it's not necessarily the prime minister who politicizes them.&nbsp; Sometimes it's provincial governors, or it's party leaders who attempt to politicize certain aspects of the military. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And so we have to deal with all of them to understand to have a true military for Iraq, it has to be one that's professional, which means it's dedicated to the constitution and not individuals.&nbsp; So we're not there yet.&nbsp; We're making progress on that but we're not quite there yet.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Does Prime Minister Maliki understand the limitations on what the Army is to be used for inside Iraq?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; I think, for the most part, they understand how the Army should be used.&nbsp; Again, in many different situations, there's many different viewpoints of a very specific situation.&nbsp; Where some people would say it's the political use of a military, others would say it's because there's violence getting ready to break out and we had to put the military in to keep violence from breaking out. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So it's a very subjective analysis that has to go on.&nbsp; But I would say, for the most part, the prime minister is very clear and understands what the Army should be used for.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; How would you characterize the standoff in Salad ad-Din province and how would you characterize the use of force in Diyala province?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah, I would just say first -- the first question we always ask is are the operations being done according to the rule of law.&nbsp; And in every case, the rule of law has been followed. There's been evidence brought to a judge.&nbsp; There's been warrants sworn out by a judge, and those warrants are being executed by their security forces. There is no going out and saying this guy's a problem, we just pick him up.&nbsp; It is based on evidence that's presented to a judge. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;The issue in some places, Diyala specifically, is that some of these charges are back to 2004 and '5, and as we've gone through reconciliation process, some people believe that they've reconciled, so these charges -- and they've gone through the amnesty law, and so they shouldn't be applied.&nbsp; But there's others that say, well, they've continued to do these acts.&nbsp; So it's a fuzzy line that has to be worked out.&nbsp; It's not -- it's not black and white.&nbsp; It is extremely gray.&nbsp; So the thing that we make sure is that they're transparent and they use the rule of law.&nbsp; And in the large majority of these events, they have.&nbsp; When they don't, we talk to them about it.&nbsp; In almost every case, the right action is taken once we do that.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;In Salad ad-Din again, it's a situation where the -- the provincial chair has been by IHAQ determined to be not qualified based on his educational level to serve in the government.&nbsp; This has been -- the presidency council has upheld this.&nbsp; So there's an issue about whether he thinks he should be serving and he doesn't and because of the concern of breakout of violence, the Army has been used to do this.&nbsp; I personally would rather have seen them use the police to do it.&nbsp; I think that's the right move, and I think it would have been done that way.&nbsp; But legitimately, once again, they have used the rule of law.&nbsp; There is some understanding that this individual should not be participating right now, and so because he refused to leave, they are trying to enforce what is their constitution and about who's eligible to be candidates and who isn't. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So it's -- again, it's not a black-and-white situation.&nbsp; It's one of these things that for the next few years we'll continue to see in Iraq.&nbsp; They continue to, though, mature, and over time, we hope that these will be solved by diplomatic measures and not having to use force.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Given the general level of competency of the Iraqi Security Forces to maintain internal security and given -- given that the ISF is maturing, why is it that we have so many U.S. forces inside Iraq right now?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, first again, it goes back to what I said earlier.&nbsp; It is about first ensuring that the democratic process is -- continues to move forward in Iraq.&nbsp; We still have to provide them some capabilities that we will field over the next two years that they just don't have.&nbsp; For example, we're still helping them develop their intelligence capacity.&nbsp; We're still helping them develop their air capacity.&nbsp; We're helping them to develop their planning capacities, their targeting capacities.&nbsp; So we still help them in these ways.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But more fundamental than that, it's about the psychological and physical support in order to continue to help them to mature diplomatically and economically.&nbsp; With U.S. forces being there, it gives the international community and others a bit more confidence to now invest in Iraq economically.&nbsp; So until we can get this started and then they gain confidence in Iraq itself as we slowly move our forces out over the next two years, I think it's important that it helps them to build this confidence in their economic development.&nbsp; It helps them.&nbsp; Our presence there will help them to build these constituencies within the democratic process that will continue to grow over time.&nbsp; It will help them to fundamentally mature their political processes, so all of these things have an impact when we have soldiers on the ground.&nbsp; And, oh, by the way, we help them with security issues as well.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; So concretely, what does that mean?&nbsp; I mean what do U.S. soldiers in Iraq do now in order to --</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah, well, one of the fallacies I want to make sure is very clear is I go out four times a week to visit battalions and brigades and the one thing we do not do is stay on our FOBs and do nothing.&nbsp; I want to make that very clear.&nbsp; If you went and talked to a battalion colonel, they get very offended when they read that. They're out every single day.&nbsp; They do 14 to 15 operations, but they're doing it with their Iraqi security force partners.&nbsp; They're right there helping them to conduct these operations.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What's different is we do not do anything unilaterally.&nbsp; Everything we do is completely coordinated with the government of Iraq, and you will never see a U.S. soldier conduct an operation without an Iraqi security force with him, in fact, without an Iraqi security force in the lead of the operation.&nbsp; But they're out every single day working with the Iraqi security force partners.&nbsp; So we still play a very significant role. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And what we're going to do as we draw down is we call it thinning the lines.&nbsp; We won't leave areas blank, but we will slowly reduce the number of U.S. forces that are doing these operations with the Iraqis.&nbsp; And slowly over time, they do more and more. They mature more and more.&nbsp; They're able to do more and more on their own.&nbsp; And that's the -- that's what we've been doing now for the last 18 months, which most people don't know is 75,000 troops have left in Iraq in the last 15 months.&nbsp; We were at 175,000 15 months ago.&nbsp; We're at 98,000 today.&nbsp; 77,000 people have left.&nbsp; And we've done that in such a way that we have not, in fact, impacted the security situation.&nbsp; In fact, it's continued to get better.&nbsp; And that's what we continue to plan on doing as we withdraw down to 50,000 over the next several months.&nbsp; And that's what we'll do when we go down to zero at the end of 2011.&nbsp; We'll do it slowly.&nbsp; As they build their capability, we reduce our capability.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; When you look at that -- that process and that drawdown process, do you see that the U.S. forces will play a consistent role over time in advising and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces? Will they continue to cement democratic processes even when we're down to 50,000 troops?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah, I mean, what I -- what we did is I call it -- the way I try to define it is we're moving from a counterinsurgency base to a stability base force.&nbsp; But the President has defined what our mission will be.&nbsp; It'll be we will train, advise, assist, enable, partner with Iraqi Security Forces.&nbsp; We will continue to support the U.S. Embassy, the U.N. and other nongovernmental agencies in building civil capacity, and we will continue to conduct counterterrorism operations inside of Iraq.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Now, I'm going to tell you that I believe that's really what we're doing today.&nbsp; We are not doing any independent operations anymore.&nbsp; The Iraqis are doing counterinsurgency operations with us training, advising, enabling and partnering with them.&nbsp; We are doing counterterrorism operations, but we're really not even doing those independently.&nbsp; We are doing all our counter -- our highest-end counterterrorism operations are done with -- in complete coordination with Iraqi Security Forces and with Iraqi Security Forces. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So I think this transition will be much smoother than people think on the ground.&nbsp; It'll be smooth just like coming out of the cities was.&nbsp; We actually came out of the cities six to seven months prior to actually announcing that we're out of the cities.&nbsp; We'll transition to stability operations in the same way.&nbsp; We'll do it slowly over time, and, frankly, I suspect by 1 June, 1 July, we'll be doing stability operations across Iraq.&nbsp; And the transition on 1 September will be very -- will be very easy as we go through that -- transparent and easy as we go through that process.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; As we look at those stability operations, do U.S. forces play a peacekeeping role inside of Iraq?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I mean, I think it's unclear.&nbsp; We are -- we are providing some joint forces in the disputed areas right now between the Kurds and the Arabs.&nbsp; That's off to a rocky start, but it's -- it's providing, I still think, some stability in those areas.&nbsp; We have to -- we have to determine whether we need to do that beyond 1 September or not, and if we do, we'll make an allocation to do that.&nbsp; I think we probably will have to do that a little bit beyond 1 September.&nbsp; So that's completely in line with the security agreement, so it should be no issue with continuing to do that.&nbsp; So I think that that is part of stability operations, conducting that type of operation.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; What do the Iraqi people expect from the United States, and, indeed, what do Iraqi politicians expect of the United States and the forces on the ground over the coming six -- six to 12 months?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I think -- I think it's a couple things.&nbsp; First, they want to see an election that's credible and legitimate.&nbsp; The Iraqi Security Forces will provide the majority, 99 percent of the security, but U.S. forces will help them to do that.&nbsp; They'll oversee what's going on.&nbsp; It gives a sense of confidence-building measures for all of the parties involved in the elections to have the U.S. there.&nbsp; We'll do some support to the United Nations to help them successful, specifically with international observers. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We will also the economic development to start.&nbsp; Twelve contracts have been signed with foreign oil companies that will all begin within the next six, seven, eight, nine months or so.&nbsp; We'll help them to get started by working with the U.S. Embassy, by working with the government of Iraq.&nbsp; And we'll help with developing security, help them develop their own security and how it -- how it then links into Iraqi Security Forces and Iraqi security capacity. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We hope that will provide confidence for other foreign governments to invest.&nbsp; The Koreans are about ready to invest $3.5 billion in Basra to build a steel plant in Basra.&nbsp; The UAE is about ready to spend a significant amount of money to begin an agricultural -- a agricultural project in the south. So we hope to see more of this as we move forward. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So I think what the Iraqis want to see out of us is to continue to enable their security forces to provide security, create an environment for economic development so when we -- when we get to 2011, they're starting to see their economy grow.&nbsp; They're starting to see their jobs grow.&nbsp; They see that their security forces can handle their security by themselves with no assistance from the United States.&nbsp; I think that's what they expect out of us.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; And has there been a need to -- you've talked about the withdrawal of actually a lot of human beings from -- from Iraq.&nbsp; Has there been a commensurate increase in the number of -- I shouldn't say commensurate increase.&nbsp; Has there been an increase in civilian-provided activities within Iraq such that the United States will be able to meet the expectations that Iraqis have of us?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; I think there's two different levels here.&nbsp; There's a tactical operational level, and then there's a strategic level of engagement.&nbsp; For example, at the tactical operational level, we've had provincial reconstruction teams.&nbsp; Obviously, those will reduce in number as U.S. forces reduce by -- you know, we'll go down from 23 today to 16 for a long period of time and ultimately go down to probably about six by the end of 2011.&nbsp; So the tactical operational support will decrease just because of the fact that -- of the security capacity to help protect the provincial reconstruction teams and the cost of private security in order to protect the provincial reconstruction teams.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But you will see is an increase in what I call strategic level support in Iraq, and you're already seeing it.&nbsp; We're seeing much bigger engagement from the Agricultural Department.&nbsp; We're seeing much bigger engagement from the Energy Department.&nbsp; We're seeing much bigger engagement from the Commerce Department.&nbsp; We're seeing a bigger engagement from other agencies, and I think that will grow.&nbsp; And this is based on the strategic framework agreement.&nbsp; The State Department will increase its size and people in some areas.&nbsp; For example, they will significantly increase the number of people they have involved in police training as they take that over from U.S. military forces, so you'll see an increase in certain specific areas as we move forward, those that we think are important. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;When we transition out as a military, we transition to three different groups.&nbsp; We transition some responsibilities to the government of Iraq; i.e., some of the security responsibilities.&nbsp; We transition some of the responsibilities to U.N. and nongovernmental organizations.&nbsp; We transition some responsibilities to our own embassy who will take on primacy for these.&nbsp; And then others, hopefully, we'll complete.&nbsp; So there's several transitions that will occur over the next two years till the end of 2011, and us managing those transitions are extremely important as we move forward.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; You began the discussion by talking about the opportunity that the United States has in Iraq and, indeed, the opportunity that Iraq has right now.&nbsp; What are the long-term U.S. interests in seeing a stable and -- a stable Iraq with a kind of just, accountable and representative government that you described?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, first again, it goes to a diplomatic and economic and a security partner in a very volatile part of the world.&nbsp; And Iraq has a significant economic upside, not just from its oil industry but from other industries that we think could spin off from that.&nbsp; And that economic -- their ability to develop that economically inside of Iraq.&nbsp; So with economic development and diplomatic development, making this work could have a significant impact across the entire Middle East. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And secondly and lastly, us having a long term strategic partnership, one that is based on common trust and common goals, one that recognizes each other's own sovereignty, over time would help us in my mind to better secure the United States, because that would give us another partner right in the center of the Middle East that can help us to fight terrorism.&nbsp; I will argue that when we leave there, Iraq will have some of the best characters and forces in the Middle East and they can help us to fight this threat against us from many of these other terrorist groups.&nbsp; So I think that's what we have the potential to gain from this relationship I think is significant.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; As we look at that relationship, what kind of engagement is needed by the United States in order to realize this opportunity?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I think&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; think General Keane and yourself mentioned it.&nbsp; It's the Strategic Framework Agreement.&nbsp; Most people don't pay much attention to that.&nbsp; When it was passed in December of '08, everybody paid attention to the SOFA agreement, security agreement.&nbsp; The strategic framework agreement is the basis for this and it's the one agreement that Iraq really looks to.&nbsp; That agreement can&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; really outlines the long term relationship between the United States and the government of Iraq.&nbsp; They want to have people, the Iraqi people educated in the United States.&nbsp; They want to learn from the United States.&nbsp; They want to learn how to develop their economy.&nbsp; They want to learn about our educational system, our medical capability.&nbsp; So by developing these strong bonds between our two countries at the national level I think will be very important in meeting our long term goals. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;You know, we have now&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Iraq put 4 million of their own money towards an educational program to college level&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; it's the Fulbright program, to send students all around the world, but many to the United States and Western Europe to study.&nbsp; This is the beginning of a very important relationship if you start to develop this over time. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Having a long term military relationship, one that's based on common understanding and respect for each other would go a long&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; long way in developing a strong partnership over the long term.&nbsp; And how we go about doing that is very important, that we're able to do joint exercises with the government of Iraq for years to come, and that will provide us a partner in helping them and helping us in order to develop long term security.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; What are the ways that the United States and the Iraqis each could actually work on implementing this strategic framework agreement more vigorously and aggressively than we are now?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I think&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I think first off what we're doing now is we've had&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; we've been able to keep it going and get it started.&nbsp; It's really now up to the new government of Iraq.&nbsp; Once the elections are over and the new government gets seated, it's about how we enable them to very quickly implement this agreement with the United States and that we are aggressive in working with the new government, bringing them on board, because they'll be the ones who execute this over the next four years. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So what we have to do is make sure we bring them on in such a way that they understand the Strategic Framework Agreement, we are very aggressive in the beginning of showing what the advantages are to the government of Iraq, and we see what the advantages are to the United States and really push this forward as we get all new ministers and all new leadership in Iraq.&nbsp; It's about getting their buy in into this, and I think we'll get it.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; I think we have time for a couple of questions from the media, and I'd like to stick on this theme of drawdown of U.S. forces on the one hand, but the long term strategic relationship between the U.S. and Iraq.&nbsp; Eli Lake.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Eli Lake, Washington Times.&nbsp; Can you talk a little bit about the situation with the Iraqi National Intelligence Service that was created after 2003, and then how it is sort of transitioning into the other intelligence service that was created by the parliament, and will Iraq have two intelligence services, and how is that going?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; First they have the INIS.&nbsp; They have the DGIS.&nbsp; They have the Army intelligence.&nbsp; You have the Minister of Interior intelligence.&nbsp; So you have several different intelligence agencies, just like the United States does, I would add, working many different issues.&nbsp; What they've just established, though, inside of Iraq is the National Intelligence Command, which is now combining all of these Intel agencies together, and they all now feed into this element.&nbsp; It's been set up now for about three months.&nbsp; We are involved in that.&nbsp; We are helping them to set that up. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;It's one of the things that is important to Prime Minister Malaki, that their Intel agencies continue to improve, not only providing information, but providing targetable information that can be used by their security force.&nbsp; And so we're working with them very carefully. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Well, we have found over time that we are very much embedded with all their security forces because of the importance of human intelligence today.&nbsp; It's growing more and more in importance.&nbsp; They have a much better capability to do human intelligence in Iraq than we ever will have.&nbsp; And so we're working very carefully with them to help develop that capacity, and how you link that to all the other intelligence capacities that you can develop. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And so I'm confident that that's moving forward okay.&nbsp; We are working closely with them to develop this new National Intelligence Command center, so we think that's the right way to go.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; One last overarching question.&nbsp; John, do you promise that it's large and overarching?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; It's huge and&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Excellent, wonderful.&nbsp; Then John Barry, Newsweek, you will be called on.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; General, greetings.&nbsp; Two huge and overarching questions.&nbsp; Iraq is&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Iraq has Iran on one border, but as you were obliquely referring to earlier, it has other big nations on&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; also on its border.&nbsp; Talk a little bit about that if you would, as one aspect of this.&nbsp; That is, is Iraq in danger of becoming a cockpit for a struggle by proxy between Suuni and Shi'a countries to its borders?&nbsp; My second question is&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; relates to the American relationship in the future.&nbsp; You talked about the scale of the U.S. Embassy that's building that.&nbsp; But what&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; how successful in your judgment has the civilian aspect of the U.S. relationship gone and how would you want to see&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; fairly specifically, how would you want to see the U.S. improve its civilian capabilities to help Iraq in future?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; First, I think what's important about first Iraq is getting out from under Chapter 7 of the U.N., which obviously&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and that will take a lot of work.&nbsp; That's part of what we agreed to assist them with in the strategic framework agreement.&nbsp; So that would help with some of the neighboring countries.&nbsp; Obviously there's many issues that have to be worked with Kuwait, Iran and other countries. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I think&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; one of the things that I would ask that they have to learn that I think needs to be improved is their ability to reach out to some of their neighbors, in a consistent basis and have a consistent dialog.&nbsp; And I think as they mature this time through, if they're able to do that, that will keep Iraq from becoming a battleground for the region.&nbsp; That's&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Iraq obviously fears that.&nbsp; They don't want that.&nbsp; That's why they're so&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; you see so many statements about respecting their sovereignty.&nbsp; That's what that is about.&nbsp; They don't want to see Iran, they don't want to see Saudi Arabia, they don't want to see the United States, they don't want to see any of these countries using Iraq to solve their problems.&nbsp; They want Iraq to be left alone to solve their own problems that they have to work their way through here over the next several years. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So I think one thing I would say is they have to do a better job of reaching out to all their neighboring nations on a very consistent basis.&nbsp; And I think if they do that, that could reduce tensions.&nbsp; And I think they know that and I think they'll go about doing that. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;In terms of the civilian capacity, you know, we have a real problem in the United States in our government because our civilian agencies aren't built to be expeditionary.&nbsp; And I think we have to come to the realization that we must build these agencies to be expeditionary, that we have to give them the resources necessary to do additional things in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in wherever.&nbsp; You can name it.&nbsp; Because, you know, if you don't give them that capacity then they have to make some very difficult choices.&nbsp; And so what it&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and it's not just the State Department.&nbsp; It's&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; we get a lot of help from the Treasury Department.&nbsp; We get help from Homeland Security.&nbsp; We get help from the Justice Department.&nbsp; But they're limited in what they can do as well, because they still have their everyday job that they have to do. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So it's easy for us to criticize that.&nbsp; We're built to be expeditionary.&nbsp; That's our mission, you know.&nbsp; So that's what we're&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; that's what we're here for.&nbsp; So what we have to do is build this additional capacity.&nbsp; The United States in my mind is going to be involved in this for a while and so we have to start building capacity.&nbsp; I think they have, in fact, this year added actually positions to the State Department for this for the first time, I think in the last budget.&nbsp; Those are the kind of things that I think we have to continue to do. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And then we have to continue to rotate the expertise through.&nbsp; It's one of the things we've learned and, you know, you go into Iraq, you come back to Washington.&nbsp; You work Iraq, then you go back into Iraq.&nbsp; You go to Afghanistan, you come to Washington.&nbsp; You work Afghanistan and go&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; because you got to keep&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; these are very complex, difficult issues and you got to stay in the game.&nbsp; And if you don't, you fall behind very quickly. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;You know, one of my biggest fears, and I'll just be upfront here, is when I&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the reason I come back and try to do some of these things is I worry about those who left Iraq in 2006 and haven't been back.&nbsp; And they think they understand where Iraq is.&nbsp; I talk to every brigade and battalion that comes into Iraq, and the first thing I tell them is, &quot;When did you leave?&quot;&nbsp; I ask them.&nbsp; Some will say, &quot;Two years ago.&quot;&nbsp; Some will say, &quot;One year ago.&quot;&nbsp; Some will say, &quot;Six months ago.&quot;&nbsp; And I say, &quot;If it's three months ago, it's different than it was.&quot;&nbsp; Because it's changing so quickly.&nbsp; And so it's important to rotate that expertise out. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;That's why Kim is always bugging me about coming out all the time, because she wants to stay current, and that's important to stay current.&nbsp; You know, so&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I mean, I think those are the two things that I would&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; if I could just&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; you're going to ask another question.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; No.&nbsp; I was going to ask you if there was anything left that you wanted to say before I have the final word, as I always do.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah, okay.&nbsp; I'm very familiar with that, by the way so&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I just want to close by saying that it's&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I am one who believes in the young men and women of this country.&nbsp; I've gotten to watch it for seven years up close.&nbsp; I mean, I've been involved in the Army for 34 years almost now.&nbsp; But for the last seven years I've got to watch it up close and personal, the young men and women who are coming out of our society who choose to do what I consider to be the extraordinary, where&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; especially some that have done it two times, three times, four times, five times.&nbsp; And they do it for a lot of different reasons.&nbsp; But there's one&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; there's about three common reasons that they always have: that they have a bond with the person that stands to their right and left, that they have a love for their unit or their service and third, they have a love of their country and they think they're making a difference.&nbsp; These are great young men and women.&nbsp; They're smart, they're articulate.&nbsp; They've been able to understand the nuances of change and execute them on the run.&nbsp; We have an incredible young leadership coming up.&nbsp; I'm glad that I'm going to retire soon because I'll never be able compete with these young men and women who are coming up and the experiences that they've had. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And so I would just say we have to&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; we really&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; be thankful for what they've been able to do.&nbsp; And I'll speak for Iraq, but I know in Afghanistan it's the same thing.&nbsp; And so I would just ask everyone to remember that as you go about your daily business here in Washington, that you think about these young men and women who continue to serve around the world and continue to do it for you and for many others because they think it will bring better peace and stability to the United States.&nbsp; So with that I will close.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; General Odierno, I thank you so much for joining us at ISW today, for talking about your experiences in Iraq.&nbsp; But I also have to thank you very specially and from my heart for all that you have done within Iraq.&nbsp; I do think that it's&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; it's remarkable, the amount of time that you have spent in Iraq in such a variety of conditions from 2004 until now.&nbsp; And I don't think that it is possible to state the extraordinary quality of your generalship that you have been able to move through positions in an ever changing Iraq over the course of our entire engagement with Iraq, and be really on the cutting edge of what the United States needs to do next and where we as a military force should be headed.&nbsp; I am just floored by the flexibility of your thinking, your creativity and your ability to look forward, and I'm really glad that you were able to share that with us today.&nbsp; So thank you so much for what you do and for what all of the men and women at U.S. forces Iraq do for us today.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Thank you.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Thanks.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;[Applause]<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; If you all could remain seated, please. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Thank you so much.&nbsp; I'll escort you.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;[End of proceedings.]<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;* * * * *</p>