April 12th, 2009
10:24 AM ET
9 years ago

Odierno: Iraq has 'improved significantly'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The top U.S. military commander on the ground in Iraq said Sunday that conditions in the war-torn country have improved in the last year or so.

“They’ve improved significantly,” Gen. Ray Odierno told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King on State of the Union. “Obviously, we still have some very serious incidents . . . but, again, it’s much safer.”

Odierno also said Sunday that the number of combat fatalities in March was the lowest number suffered by U.S. troops since the beginning of the Iraq war. “So, there’s been a clear improvement of security here,” Odierno added.

“The issue is: can we maintain that? Can the Iraqis maintain it? And that’s what we’re working through now. We want them to be able to maintain this stability as we pull out.”

Odierno told King that he believed the U.S. military was on track to meet its schedule to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq over the next 18 months, adding though that he had the flexibility to re-assess that schedule.

The general also cautioned that there were still threats in Iraq. “There are some cells out there who are still capable of conducting suicide attacks,” Odierno said when asked about a recent uptick in violence and U.S. fatalities.

Odierno also said the U.S. military had made it more difficult for foreign fighters to get into Iraq through Syria, but there was still support for the Iraqi insurgency coming from Iran.

Full story

Filed under: Iraq • State of the Union
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. The black Spider

    So pull out and let them kill themselves if that's what they want.

    April 12, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  2. phoenix81

    turn them loose and lets see how they do, no more occupation mentatlity, let them take responsibility and grow as a nation

    it does them no good as a nation to have us prop them up

    April 12, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  3. Obama - NOPE

    Thanks to Bush's leadership, the Middle East is far better off than it was.

    April 12, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  4. Sure it has.....

    5 Americans were blown up just today and will be arriving in body bags shortly. Doesn't sound better to me.

    April 12, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  5. Lori

    After a trillion dollar deficit and billions of our American tax dollars spent in Iraq... thank you Republicans for your great leadership! I am so glad that the surge was a success- never mind that we should have never been there in the first place. I can always trust a Republican to spend my tax dollars on justified causes. Forget healthcare and education in America. Who needs those things anyways?

    April 12, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. GOP = 21st century dodo

    "Thanks to Bush's leadership, the Middle East is far better off than it was."

    Go tell that to the parents of one of the 4272 dead troops.

    April 12, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. alvino


    You are the best!

    April 12, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. Jomama

    Lori, you are so wise except your math isn't so good. Looks like the Dems will spend, make that waste, more money in the first 6 months of Obama's dictatorship than Bush and the Reps did in the last 8 years, and that includes Iraq. I'd be much happier if we had spent the Iraq money on health care and education also, except I don't want to see it wasted on radical leftist (or right) pet projects, i.e. pork, and I don't want the government to take over health care. Go to a country and try out socialized health care. You will find that it is horrible and inefficient. The government has owned education forever too and its so bad that the radical left elitists talk it and teacher's unions up but then refuse to put their kids in the public school system. I'd agree that the Reps overspent and did some stupid stuff in the past 8 years but that is looking more and more pale in comparison to the idiotic moves Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have pulled in the past 6 months.

    April 12, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. flybyshoeing

    Can't trust Odierno, he speaks with forked tongue. Just two days ago he said we may have to stay longer.

    April 12, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  10. barking republican ankle biters

    The day we leave is the day that country will collapse just like Vietnam.This war was totally useless except for those who make money from wars.The Iraqi people are spineless.

    April 12, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  11. Keith in Austin

    I find it incredible how so many liberal critics of Iraq have never served Country in any way other than taking the gifts that She provides. Stop your whining ans salute those that have payed the ultimate price for your Freedom

    April 12, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. Saul- Virginia

    To Obama – NOPE,

    Why don't you go back angd look at how the middle east was in 2000 before you say sucha stupid ill informed comment.

    After hundred of thousand of Iraqis killed, >4000 Us troops killed with weakened US Millitary and an out of Control Iran, how can you say that.

    If the previous administration focused on saving lives instead of destroying life in the past 8 years and invested the time effort and money on American soil, we would not have been in the mess we are in.

    It is amazing that you can sit here in America and tell how great the people in the middle east are having such a great life today because of pres. Bush .

    April 12, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  13. joe smith

    this guy will say anything, including we need $5 billion more to complete the job; aka Haliburton

    April 12, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. I used to like CNN but not anymore!

    Finally some good news!

    April 12, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. exconservative

    Speaking as a veteran who has served in a war zone I am very proud of my country but I am disappointed in the past Republican administrations actions. The Iraq war was a horrible mistake and now they have a General spewing lies about the state of Iraq. Iraq may be stabilized at the current time but as soon as the Americans pull out it will be in a state of chaos. The Taliban will take control of the country and Sharia Law will follow and I believe in time the entire middle east will be a terrorist stronghold. People need to speak out about these obvious lies coming from Republican puppets like BS General Odierno. Surely even staunch right wing Republicans do not believe this fairytale world of Iraq will last when the Americans pull out, do they?

    April 12, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Bash

    Its obvious left to the general,he would prefer eternal occupation of iraq,yes thats how military guys think,just check out cesar's army in ancient rome.He wasnt keen on coming home because right there in iraq,he is alpha&omega,and has absolute control over a mini country of 100000troops.But since BO remains the big guy at the back he has to fall in line.The war was unnecessary initially

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

    Iraq has improved significantly. mainly under the previous president. If you blame Bush for the economy you need to credit him for Iraq. (This is not a party line (R or D) statement, only a way to get to the truth here in the hope we move forward from now on to lead and not to campaign only!)

    The Obama administration tendency to take credit for positive things and to attribute negative things to the previous administration ought to stop. It does not help to govern this land; it is simply politics. But this administration turns out to be no different from previous ones: they all lie! Like take the Obama bowing to the Saudi king issue: to understand if it was a bow or not, there is no need to ask the administration! Their answer is and will be far from the truth, as expected! The logical judgment regarding this issue is simple: just imagine the opposite situation: If the king did the same thing to Obama, how miserably he would be criticized in the Arab world (end of story)!

    April 12, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Alfred E. Neumann

    Another day and another day with postings gone wild.

    General Odierno is putting the best face on a very bad situation he's a man just doing his job.

    At this point it matters not what the general's view of the situation is, what matters is that we leave.

    You know, like Vietnam – declare victory and leave.

    April 12, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. worriedmom

    really confusing. one day they are in terrible shape, the next day things are improving. If they are improving we can thank Bush for that, even though you Liberals would rather eat your own before admitting that Bush did anything worthwhile.

    April 12, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  20. bk

    Did it ever occur to you that we could not have gone to war without the Democrats voting for it?

    April 12, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. Carmine Abbattiello

    Excellent, this will enable re-deploying to face the real enemy, the Taliban, in Afghanistan.

    April 12, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. ron

    ...and then the third, pro-obama iraq war strategy series piece in CNN's unbiased attempt to prop up their candidate.

    again, just half of the story has been presented here (three times) to give the followers the news they want to hear. obama is so smart, and all his ideas are the change we need.

    the other side of the story is that there is widespread worry among iraqis that as the americans leave, the militancy will return.

    seems that we need to read other sources to get the other half of the news though.

    April 12, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |