Webb To The Rescue
And as soon as I write that, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) demands Odierno get specific. Webb tells Odierno that a key part of strategizing is to “be able to articulate clearly what the endpoint of that strategy is.” So: What’s the endgame, “in military terms”?
Odierno: “A self-reliant government that is stable, a government that will contribute inside of the regional context and the international context. Obviously, that means they need a professional security force… Obviously, a place that will not allow a safe haven for terrorists or extremists that threaten region… or the United States. … An economic engine that [provides for] the continued improvement of the Iraqi people. … From a military perspective, the ability to secure themselves, and do it in such a way that allows the government to continue to grow. … and we will continue to do less and less.”
Webb isn’t satisfied. But what does U.S. military mission in iraq look like, even if those conditions are met? “It’ll adjust over time. We’ll have less and less responsibility for drect combat… Over time, we’ll change to advisory missions.” But how long will that take? “It’s unknown… I think that’s a policy decision, how long we’d want to have contact with the Iraqi government in future.”
But what’s the endpoint? Say U.S. meets all these conditions. Should there be a continued U.S. presence there? “That’s a discussion… for policy.” Webb won’t let it go! What do you think, Gen. Odierno? Will there be a need for the U.S. military in Iraq if those conditions are met? “I do not.” Finally.
Now that’s how an adult asks a question.