Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | army | general | ray odierno | ground | troops

Army Chief of Staff: Troops and Time Needed in ISIS Fight

By    |   Friday, 19 Sep 2014 07:01 PM

Army chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno said fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) will likely take more troops – and time – and he doesn't discount U.S. forces being embedded alongside Iraqi soldiers on the front lines.

The former top military commander during the last war in Iraq told the Defense Writers Group the 1,600 troops in Iraq now "is a good start," The Washington Post reported Friday. 

"I don’t think there’s a rush, a rush to have lots of people in there now," he said, adding, however, commanders will reevaluate troop levels as operations unfold against the Islamic State group.

"Based on that assessment we’ll make further decisions," he said.

Odierno said fighting the Islamic State will only get harder.

"This is going to go on," he said, The Post reports. "This is not a short term — I think the president said three years. I agree with that — three years, maybe longer. And so what we want to do is do this right. Assess it properly, see how it’s going, adjust as we go along, to make sure we can sustain this."

Though he said he supports the White House strategy to train and equip Iraqi, Kurdish and Syrian proxy forces to attack Islamic State militants – and keep U.S. soldiers out of ground battles – he conceded things will get more complicated as airstrikes push the insurgents into more populated areas.

"The worst thing that can happen for us is if we start killing innocent Iraqis, innocent civilians," he said, The Post reported. "So we have to be very careful and precise on how we’re doing this. We’ll have to determine that, as we go forward, if we can sustain the level of preciseness that is necessary to limit civilian casualties."

As to embedding troops, including Special Operations Forces, with Iraqi soldiers on the front line, Odierno told the Defense Writers Group: "I don’t rule anything out. I don’t ever rule anything out, personally."

On Tuesday, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before Congress that, if necessary, he might recommend to President Barack Obama that he allow small teams to embed with Iraq forces. 

The Post noted Obama, while insisting he won't send U.S. ground forces into combat in Iraq, hasn't said whether he thinks more troops will be needed. Nor is Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel taking anything off the table.

"The Secretary is -- and will remain -- open to hearing the advice and counsel of senior military leaders," Rear Adm. John Kirby told The Post in an e-mail. "He expects that advice to be candid, forthright and forward-looking."

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Army chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno said fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) will likely take more troops – and time – and he doesn't discount U.S. forces being embedded alongside Iraqi soldiers on the front lines.
army, general, ray odierno, ground, troops
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2014-01-19
Friday, 19 Sep 2014 07:01 PM
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