(CNN) – Less than two weeks before the scheduled end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq, the top U.S. military commander in the country tells CNN that the United States could have a presence there well after 2011 - when all U.S. troops are set to leave Iraq.
Asked about a comment by an Iraqi military official who said American troops “’must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020,”’ Gen. Ray Odierno says he could imagine a scenario where “we could be there beyond 2011.”
“Can you foresee a scenario like that, that there would be some U.S. military presence, albeit much smaller, at 2020?,” CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley asks Odierno in an interview set to air Sunday on “State of the Union.”
“I think it depends on what kind of presence you're talking about,” Odierno says. “If the government of Iraq requests some technical assistance in fielding, systems that allow them to continue to protect themselves, some external threats. We could be here.
“I mean, you know, we have agreements like that in Saudi Arabia. We have agreements like that in Egypt. That continues to help them to develop their infrastructure and security architecture. And if that's what we're talking about, potentially, we could be there beyond 2011.”
Related: U.S. troop strength put at 52,000
In the interview, Odierno also says he thinks Iraqi security forces are on track to be ready for the planned withdrawal of all U.S. forces next year.
"My assessment today is … they will be [ready for next year's withdrawal],” he says. “I think that they continue to grow. We continue to see development in planning, in their ability to conduct operations. We continue to see political development, economic development and all of these combined together will start to create an atmosphere that creates better security.”
And the general adds that Iraqis “want to have a democratic country.”
But Odierno questions Iran’s support of a democratic Iraq.
"I think they don't want to see Iraq turn into a strong democratic country,” he says. “They'd rather see it become a weak governmental institution. So they don't add more problems for Iran in the future."
I pray to God he is wrong. We never should have sent our soldiers there to fight in the first place! No thanks to the idiot gw. "The worst president Ever!" By far!
This should as a surprise to no one. Obama campaigned on getting the troups out; keep his promise on this like everything else he promised.
Is this the world vision of the right wing neo-conservative Republicans when Bush decided to invade Iraq? Peace around the world enforced by the permanent staging of American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, South Korea, and Japan?
I hate to say it but this is just a bunch of political garbage. 50K troops still there, now being called "support troops"? Lets be real! YES, I would love to see ALL of our military HOME, where they should be! IF we get out by 2011 I would be very happy, but I am not going to hold my breath. If you listen to how our "elected children" worded the 2011 withdrawal date, they left the door wide open to come up with a reason not to leave.
Yes, Obama got the troops out, HOWEVER, he forgot 50,00 he left behind. What a play on words. No wonder less than half of the americans trust the Obama administration.
Is this any surprise?
We also have troop still in Germany where we are NOT wanted by most German Citizens also in Japan again NOT welcomed.
Same game the Romans played till they were spread too thin.
It is long over due to get toops out of all foreign countries.
Why is it that we put our young people thru 6 weeks of basic training and send them to war, but "furriners" take 15 years to train?
Just saying . . .. . . . .
Blood for oil.
President Obama has always said "combat troops will be out in 2010".
Why is there so much confusion? We still have support troops in Germany, Korea, and only God knows where else in this world.
WHY was the war in Iraq started in the first place? To kill the man that "tried to kill my daddy". That's where the shame is.
We never pull our troops 100% so why people blaming Obama
Blame G.W.Bush and republican administration our troops shouldn’t be in Iraq first place
pretty much a no brainer here.
we still have bases in Japan, don't we?
bushes INVASION OF IRAQ WAS IS A SAD DAY FOR AMERICA.bush chaney should be held accountable.and inprioned.i for one american who just now can proudly fly our flag.it means something.