AP: Any change of military strategy in Iraq should be done slowly and deliberately or U.S. troops and the Iraqi population will be put in danger, a top U.S. commander said Thursday. Associated Press
By PAULINE JELINEK
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – Any change of military strategy in Iraq should be done slowly and deliberately or U.S. troops and the Iraqi population will be put in danger, a top U.S. commander said Thursday.
Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno also told Pentagon reporters that while he will be able to give U.S. leaders an assessment in September of whether of progress in Iraq is continuing, he will need more time to tell if improvements represent long term trends.
“In order to do a good assessment I need at least until November,” Odierno said in a video conference from Iraq.
Odierno painted an optimistic picture of progress in Iraq since the U.S. troop buildup was completed about a month ago and the Baghdad security plan was ramped up with large-scale operations.
He said there has been “significant success” in the last four weeks in that the increased military operations have denied al-Qaida safe havens in Baghdad, Iraqi security forces are growing in strength and ability and reconciliation efforts with tribal leaders and Sunni militants are gaining momentum.
Asked why the message doesn’t have more impact in at home, where the public support for the war is declining and some lawmakers are calling for a sstrategychange – Odierno said: “All I can do is tell you what is going on. I can’t make anyone listen.”