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So How’s That Odierno-Hill Relationship Working?

Tom Ricks reported earlier this week that Gen. Odierno’s relationship with the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Chris Hill, is “deteriorating rapidly.” Hill denied it to Ricks’ Foreign Policy colleague Josh Rogin. Ricks sticks to his story. So now Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) asked Odierno how it’s all going.

“Thank you so much for the question,” Odierno said.

“First, I interact every single day with — We probably meet personally three or four times a week. I have an office in the embassy that I man. But I also have about 300 people within MNF-I [Multinational Forces-Iraq] that are actually in the Embassy that are in support of economic, police, training, and other agencies, planning that are there every single day working with the Embassy, so we’re completely integrated at every level, we continue to be completely integrated. We’re updating this Joint Campaign Plan, which is– it’s a joint plan between Amb. Hill and myself. We are working this very hard, very closely together. It’s very important because it really is going to set what the deliverables are as we transition to civilian capacity-building once the military completes the capacity building.

“And the way I put it to all my people is: in 2003, we had a chance to do this, we didn’t do it quite right. We have a chance to do this now, and we have to make sure we’ve got the planning and the deliverables necessary to make sure this works as we reduce our presence. And we’re hand-in-hand doing a joint process with the embassy and I feel very comfortable with this.

“So I believe we have a real good system in place. Every meeting that I hold, we have a member of the Embassy at the meeting. So, I mean, I think our relationship is good. Amb. Hill and I work very closely together on a daily basis. As I tell him, the only thing Amb. Hill and I disagree on is that he’s a Red Sox fan and I’m a Yankee fan. So besides that we do pretty well.”

First of all: THE 2009 AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST CHAMPION NEW YORK YANKEES, once again the dominant team in Major League Baseball, clinched the AL East on Sunday after sweeping the Sox again.

Second of all: You make the call, but that sounded more like a defense of how the military/civilian process in place works in spite of the Odierno-Hill relationship than a defense of how it works because of it. The rivalry stuff at the end lightened the tone, but Odierno did not praise Hill once during that explanation, and said a lot more about how he’s put his people into the Embassy than how Hill and *his *people have taken charge of the diplomatic heavy lifting. But what do you really expect from a Red Sox fan besides empty boasting and a proclivity to come up short?

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