April 12th, 2009
10:39 AM ET
6 years ago

Top U.S. general in Iraq: I believe we'll be gone by late 2011

WASHINGTON (CNN) – General Ray Odierno, the top U.S. military commander on the ground in Iraq, said Sunday that he believes U.S. troops will be out of the country by the end of 2011.

CNN Chief National Correspondent John King asked Odierno to rate his confidence, on a scale of one to ten, that U.S. troops would be out by the agreed upon timeline between the U.S. and Iraqi governments.

“As you ask me today, I believe it’s a ten – that we will be gone by 2011.”

Odierno, one of the key architects of the surge strategy in Iraq, also weighed in Sunday on the new president’s approach to the troubled nation.

“He’s our commander-in-chief,” Odierno said of President Barack Obama, whose opposition to the Iraq war and to the surge strategy became trademarks during the 2008 White House race. “As our commander-in-chief, we take direction from him.”

“He’s very attentive. He listens. He’s incredibly intelligent. He talks through the issues. . . .He makes a decision and then we execute those decisions and that’s all you can expect out of your commander-in-chief. And I’ve been very pleased with the interaction that I’ve been able to have with him.”


On a lighter note, Odierno also discussed his new Facebook page with King. “I think it’s important that people can reach out and ask questions,” Odierno said of his new online social networking presence. “Maybe [I can] educate them a little bit more on what’s going on here in Iraq and get to know us a little bit better.”

“This is new for me. This is new ground so we’ll see how it goes. But I’m actually pretty excited about it.”

It did not take long for Facebook users to respond to Odierno’s appearance on State of the Union. One commenter on Odierno’s Facebook page said the general was “representing the USA well,” in the interview. “Thank you for that and for all you do for us at home and all those brave men & women you supply leadership & direction,” the commenter added.

Filed under: Iraq • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. daniels

    To "The Korean" who posted:

    Yeah, I served (drafted) in the US Army in the early 70's and spent a couple years in South Korea. And, Yes, it's true, there are many Koreans who think that they don't need the USA. They think that the USA is more of a problem than a solution in South Korea. The first time I heard that kind of talk was from a South Korean who worked on our Army base. I told that Korean civilian that if he felt so strongly about us ugly Americans that I would be happy to accompany him to my senior officer and he could express his feelings about us Americans to my senior officer. I also told him that I and several thousand US troops would go home the next day at his bequest if we were allowed. Of course, thart meant that the US Army base would close down and he would have to get a job else where. Realizing that his livelihood was dependent on the presence of the US Army. That Korean civilian shut up and never mentioned his anti-US Army views again.

    So, to the Korean who posted about not wanting American troops on South Korean soil. You may get your wish. As Obama looks to cut costs I will ask my Congressperson to cut the US forces in South Korea so we can save the American taxpayers some serious money. So, us Americans will eventually leave your shores and you can do your own military lifting. Also, we don't need your cheap cars. And all those electronic plants and textiles that you have can be easily relocated to Indonesia or Mexico.

    Bye, bye- South Korea

    April 12, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. tom

    did i miss something?
    are we not building a permanant base for our troops in iraq?

    April 12, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. Young T

    Michael K Wrote:

    "LOL, I'm Korean & know a lot of people (family, friends, business contacts) who live all over South Korea. If you think they think Americans are there doing South Korea some sort of favor by staying there, you're kidding yourself. South Koreans basically don't ever worry about North Korea. "
    MY COMMENT: The person who identified as Michael K probably is a communist agent working for North Korea. He twisted the fact, and said something that is contrary to the feelings of an absolute majority of South Koreans toward U.S. servicemen stationed in South Korea.
    One consolation in this person's sad behavior is that the internet is available in the world's most controlled state.

    April 12, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. tim

    Did everyone miss Odierno's statement from 3 or 4 days ago when he said we may be there longer than expected? Sounds like he got a cal from Obama letting him know he needed to clarify his position.


    April 12, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Michael from Seattle

    How convenient! Just in time for the reelection campaign! What do think we are all idiots?

    April 12, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. paulo

    just another 2 years guys. then well go fight in Afghanistan for another decade. What do you think all those permanent bases are for. What about the giant embassy....We will be there forever. This is empire. Always has been.

    April 12, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. 31% of Americans are TRAITORS for wanting America to FAIL and 69% of Americans to SUFFER!

    “He’s very attentive. He listens. He’s incredibly intelligent. He talks through the issues. . ."

    Too bad the Arayan Nation base of the repub party cannot see thru the hatred of the color of President Obama's skin, otherwise, they might agree or at least think about what the General is saying.

    A President that gathers information from several sources and then makes an informed decision. What a novel approach and one that has thankfully replaced the "gut reactions" of the shrub.

    April 12, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  8. RC

    Democracy is great and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else, but it can drive you nuts at times. You can voice your opinion be you genius or idiot. Fact: Generals as with all others in the military have an opinion, however, at the end of the day, they follow the current presidents orders (Bush, Obama, whoever). Fact: It was the Bush admin (Rumsfeld) who decided against the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force then get out! Opinion: Maybe we should not have went in in the first place. Moot at this point, so we're left with making lemonaide. Like Nixon, it's not Obama's war, but he's left with the task of ending it. Let's hope he does a better job of it! Those who supported Bush need to reflect on what may have been successes and failures, and for Obama supporters, the book is being written.

    April 12, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    for the record, Korea has not ended yet.


    April 12, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. History mjor

    I nominate paulo as "least likely to have been awakein hisory class" for his assertion that this has always been about empire.

    April 12, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  11. I laugh at Limbaugh daily

    He doesnt know squat.Hes a paid talking head.

    April 12, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  12. Young T

    I have to warn to American readers that the two people, who identified themselves as "Machael K" and "daniels" wrote in a way suspiciously resembling North Korea's propaganda against South Korea. I have a very strong feeling that they are North Korean communist agents. As a South Korean, I feel that the two people's behavior reminds me of "a mad dog biting a feeding hand." While there were some starving South Koreans, South Korea still sent North Korean millions of tons of food, fertilizer, and others to stop massive starvation in North Korea.

    April 12, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. Keith

    We have a massive, massive footprint in Iraq in terms of equipment. I know some will be left in place for the Iraqis, but I'll be interested to see if it all can be retrograded by 2011. My prediction is no - but as others have mentioned, it will probably be one of many tasks of the contingency force we leave behind. We'll always have some sort of presence in Iraq, however small it may be.

    April 12, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  14. Kevin

    Don't look now but I think he set a "Timetable"...

    April 12, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. PFC Q.M.Blowe

    You know, I very sad that there are people on this blog that are even going as far as insulting the Armed Forces. I read were somebody called us a bunch of "military dweebs". That has got to be the most disrespectful thing I think I have ever heard somebody say, because without us, u would probably a casualty all ready...in your own country. The bottom line is..whether you voted for President Obama or not, he is still our president, there is nothing that can be done to change that in a logical sense, and whether you like him or not, he deserves respect because he really isn't doing too bad as president. The comment was also made that the only thing that the U.S. was good for was sticking there nose into other people business. Think about it like this. Some of these country's aren't stable enough to handle there own problems....and most of these country's are or used to be our biggest supporters. Alot of the stuff that you buy, eat, and drink, is not made in America but is imported, meaning their products help us stabilize the economy. So if we don't help them, then we lose out on business. you guys really need to grow up and stop insulting the people who are making it safe for you guys to lay your head down at night and go to sleep without worry. Everyone makes mistakes...that is true....as long as the president is learning from them and trying his best...I don't see where he is doingthat bad of a job.

    April 12, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. Man Up

    Some ppl need to Man Up!!!! Only 1% serves that is pathetic. Serve and then complain

    April 12, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. brett

    a large part of the reason I am against the Iraq war is that I am not convinced it is necessary for our servicemen to be making the sacrifice they are there. I have both close friends and relatives serving there that I care about very much. I am aware that there are times when our servicemen (and women) do have to fight and die to preserve our freedom. I just think that our government should not take this sacrifice for granted and send them out when perhaps the same things can be accomplished by other means. I was raised by a WW2 vet and all my uncles were WW2 vets. I was taught that war is not glorious or manly, it is simply hell on earth and what it does most of all is hurt people. I hope our troops come home soon, and to all of you currently serving in the combat zones, please stay safe, we care about you, and we are proud of you.

    April 12, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  18. cregis

    The Pubs were screaming for Candidate Obama to admit the surge was working. My question before the election and now, how has the surge worked, Are we out? Are we spending less money on Iraq? I won't say the surge worked until we are out completely. Incidentally I
    opposed the war from the beginning, The inspectors should have been allowed to finish. Bush should have finished Afghanistan and found Bin Laden. Woulda, shoulda! Doubya's legacy.!

    April 12, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. JonDie

    I can't wait to hear how the radical ayatollahs of the Republican Party spin the rescue of Capt. Phillips against Obama.

    April 12, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. Eli, Oklahoma

    Next month it will be 2012.

    April 12, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. FreeNLovIt

    Yes,, yes... cut the UMBILICAL CORD.... and leave behind a few special forces to KICK their butts...

    April 12, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  22. Michael K.

    andrea says to send all koreans back to Korea. Sorry, I didn't know you were a Native American. You should start telling all Koreans you meet that they should go back to Korea, and don't be INTERNET TOUGH GIRL.

    daniels says to send back all cheap Korean cars. lol. Type the following words into your search engine: Car of the year 2009 You'll see a little company called Hyundai, guess what? They're Korean. An American making fun of the cars that other people make, lol that's a riot. This isn't the 60's, American cars are cheap as hell. Also, Korea is far ahead of America in terms of technology. Korea is the world leader in biotech (it used to be the USA, around 8 years ago). Get a clue about how fast the world is changing.

    Young T thinks I'm a part of a communist conspiracy. I'm a Republican. Try to wrap this simple idea around your brain. Small government, low taxes, low spending, and do not engage in foreign entanglements. Ever heard of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Ben Franklin or Thomas Paine? Naw you probably haven't even read the US Constitution. Continue parroting the Neo-Con mantra, like a good fake Republican.

    April 12, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. Peter E

    The fine print is: we'll be 'gone' as in we'll still leave over thirty thousand troops at permanent bases in Iraq to make sure that their 'democratic' elections always swing our way, and to show Iran we aren't backing off, even though we have no spare resources to do anything against them anyway.

    April 12, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Peter E

    We can finally leave? Israel finally gave us persmission?

    April 12, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  25. Steve

    As for the war, it is just a jumping off place for Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is just more of the same- lies, lies, lies. I will not ever trust someone, Obama, who in his first week in office makes, as in forces, the American public to pay for abortion, err murder. Have you ever seen what an abortion does to an unborn life? Do you know what happens if the pulling off of the arms and legs of the unborn, or the insertion of a tube to suck out an unborn child's brain fails to kill? They throw the born alive child into a container in a back room to die an awful and lonely death. This is who the American public voted in. If he is willing to do this to a defenseless child, what do you think he is capable of doing to anybody anywhere! Obama is pure evil!!! With this in mind, he is more evil than Osama Bin Laden... Thank God it's a good thing Mary and Joseph did not believe in pro-choice!

    April 12, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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