August 4th, 2009
01:33 PM ET
5 years ago

Top U.S. commander in Iraq disagrees with early pull-out memo

The senior U.S. commander in Iraq Tuesday rejected a memo by a subordinate who argued for U.S. troops to withdrawal earlier then planned.
The senior U.S. commander in Iraq Tuesday rejected a memo by a subordinate who argued for U.S. troops to withdrawal earlier then planned.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The senior U.S. commander in Iraq Tuesday rejected a memo by a subordinate who argued for U.S. troops to withdrawal earlier than planned, the commander's spokeswoman said.

Gen. Raymond Odierno is the first senior U.S. military or civilian official to address the "Reese memo" since it went public last month, according to his spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Josslyn Aberle.

The memo said the withdrawal of U.S. troops should be accelerated because Iraqi forces will not get any better and are good enough to protect the government against attacks.

Aberle confirmed comments Odierno made in an interview with The Associated Press in Iraq on Tuesday.

"Our goal here given to us by the president is a secure, stable, sovereign, self-reliant Iraq. We're not there yet," Odierno told the AP.


Although Odierno thinks there are still problems with the Iraqi security forces, he believes the handover of the streets to Iraqi troops at the end of June is going well, Aberle said.

Army Col. Timothy Reese, a U.S. military advisor to Iraqi forces in Baghdad, submitted his memo to Odierno's command and it was leaked out.

In it he said the process of training Iraqi troops has reached a saturation point and, although he listed a host of problems, he said they are
good enough to protect the Iraqi government.

He proposed that the United States complete its pullout as of August 2010. Under the Obama administration's timetable, by that date U.S. troops in Iraq will be down to a stability force of between 35,000 to 50,000.

Reese's exit date would be 16 months before the president's mandate of all troops being out by the end of 2011.

Odierno said there is more work to be done in Iraq.

"We want to continue to build the institutional capacity of Iraq to move it towards a stable country and we want to make them a long-term partner that would help us to, in my mind, help overall with the security situation in the Middle East," he told the AP.

Odierno said the United States has to make sure that the national parliamentary elections scheduled for January are seen as legitimate and
credible.

He has also warned the security gains are fragile and the top threat to the stability in Iraq is the tension between Iraqis and Kurds in the north.

Last week, Odierno told reporters in Baghdad he had urged Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to work with the Kurdish Regional Government to work out differences in oil revenue sharing and to settle border disputes, two major sticking points between the two groups.


Filed under: Iraq
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Trade Freedom for Security, Lose Both

    Iraq was Bush's war. Obama is making Afghanistan his war. Bring all the troops home now.

    August 4, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. Glenn; Detroit, MI

    The Col. made a career limiting move with this memo, no matter how absolutely right he was. He forgot that the military is in existence to preserve democracy, free speech, and the American way, not practice it! The military is not a democratic organization, it is dictatorial. That is just a fact, not an opinion. I am a combat vet, and your opinion will be given to you if it is needed.

    August 4, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. Zero.

    So do most ex-service vets. Only the wimps like Obama, are running away from their responsibilies...

    August 4, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. Simmy

    War Hogs never get enough of the fight....It's the stuff their lives are made of.....It's time to begin thinking about the war-stressed troops (PTSD) and their families.....The monies being used to fund the war could drastically reduce our deficit......It's time for cooler heads to prevail....

    God bless our wonderfully brave soldiers - God bless our wonderful USA

    August 4, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. ANGIE IN PA

    Its time to BRING THEM HOME NOW! Get out we should have never been there ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 4, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. Shari, NY

    Unfortunately when the previous administration marched in uninvited, a can of worms was opened up. Trying to put a lid on it is like waiting for snow if July. Good luck, Iraq!

    By the way, what will be done with that multi million dollar white elephant jail built by Bush/Cheney thanks to U.S. taxpayers (some of whom still bow down to these two). Nobody has ever been encarcerated there. It is merely an empty shell and utter waste of money, scoffed at by the natives who see it as a tourist attraction.

    August 4, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  7. Lion

    It is a simple act of surrender.

    August 4, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  8. Marcus, Great Lakes, IL

    Got to love the "lifers"

    Sorry man, it's time to leave. Those who have been there know...

    August 4, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. minan59

    Quit wasting any more American lives and taxpayer money in Iraq. Let Iraqis take care of themselves.

    August 4, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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