Tags: Iraq | ISIS/Islamic State | Dempsey | Iraq | ISIS

Gen. Dempsey: Iraqis Need 'Luck and Leadership' to Beat Back ISIS

By    |   Wednesday, 19 Nov 2014 04:56 PM

Gen. Martin Dempsey pushed back Wednesday at criticism of a flailing U.S. strategy in the Middle East, asserting plans "will change often" to deal with reorganization in the Iraqi military and the Islamic State (ISIS) insurgence.

Speaking at the Defense One Summit in Washington, Dempsey said he was "encouraged" after meetings with military and political leaders in Baghdad during a trip that ended Sunday, and believes U.S. strategy there is sound, Defense One reports.

"Here’s what I’ll tell you about … strategy – it will change, it will change often," he said, Defense One reports. "I’m not obsessing so much about what’s in the middle."

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After meeting with Iraqi political and military leaders, Dempsey said they will need "courage, luck and leadership" to overcome" deep structural disadvantages.

"I was encouraged, but I’m also pragmatic," he added, commenting it's a good sign that a number of commanders from the Iraqi Security Forces have been removed, and told the Summit more will follow, Defense One reports.

"They are not through with that reorganization," Dempsey said.
 
But Dempsey was brutally blunt about the effect of sequestration budget cuts on America's military, warning Congress will have to act to fix that – and fast.

"I can’t describe to you the negative effect this is having on the military," he said. "We better get over it."

Dempsey noted a year ago, Russia hadn't annexed Crimea, the Ebola virus was not a global concern, and ISIS hadn't begun its relentless march across Iraq.

Dempsey said the budget needs to be more than the $535 billion proposed for 2016 in its 2015 budget request, which itself is already $35 billion over its budget cap.

But he took some of the blame for not making Congress understand the urgency — and need.

"I’ve failed on two counts," he said. "Frankly, I’m trying to decide for myself how to adapt my narrative."

Also speaking at the Summit was Gen. Raymond Odierno, who said he wants officials to take a second look at the 2012 plan to cut the Army's strength from 490,000 to 450,000, Defense News reports.
 
"We made assumptions that we wouldn’t be using Army forces in Europe the way we used to, we made assumptions that we wouldn’t go back into Iraq — and here we are back in Iraq, here we are worried about Russia again," Odierno said.

There are 1,500 U.S. soldiers in Iraq, with plans to send another 1,600 in a month; 55,000 soldiers in Afghanistan; and 80,000 in other countries around the world, Odierno said, Defense News reports.

The American public expects its Army to be ready when needed, he declared.

Odierno noted troops were shipped out to West Africa to help in the Ebola crisis in just two weeks, an operation that in the future, because of budgetary restraints, would likely take up to six months.

"I think the American people expect that of us," he said of the quick speed of the military response in West Africa.

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Gen. Martin Dempsey pushed back Wednesday at criticism of a flailing U.S. strategy in the Middle East, asserting plans "will change often" to deal with reorganization in the Iraqi military and the Islamic State (ISIS) insurgence.
Dempsey, Iraq, ISIS
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2014-56-19
Wednesday, 19 Nov 2014 04:56 PM
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