Gates: Obama Will Hear From the Generals on Iraq
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) asks about President Obama’s discussions about the pace of withdrawal from Iraq. Gates says they’re discussing transitioning forces from combat troops into an advisory role, which might adhere to the 16-month timeline Obama advocated during the presidential campaign, or could take until 2011 to complete. It’s hard to see how Lieberman can object, since that just puts a timeline to the “stair-step” drawdown strategy that Gen. David Petraeus outlined as Iraq commander in 2007. Sure enough, Lieberman backs away from the line of questioning.
Do commanders on the ground, particularly the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, have the opportunity to talk to Obama? “It’s been my approach since I took this job … I believe it is important for the president to hear directly from his senior commanders.” Odierno, Central Command chief David Petraeus, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, will all talk to Obama. “He will have every opportunity to hear from his commanders directly about what they can accomplish and what the attendant risks are.”