Great news! Suck it, Surrendocrats. Freedom, security and prosperity in Iraq by the end of the year? music to my ears.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iraq’s army and police could be ready to take over security in all 18 provinces by the end of this year as the U.S. military moves toward a less prominent role in the country, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
“We look at it every month. We make recommendations. I think that if we continue along the path we’re on now, we’ll be able to do that by the end of 2008,” Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 2 commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said when asked when Iraqi forces could take the lead in all provinces.
He said that a joint operation under way led by Iraqi troops and supported by U.S. troops against al Qaeda militants in the northern city of Mosul was a model for the future.
“That’s how I see our role frankly in the future here,” he told Pentagon reporters via videolink from Baghdad.
Iraqi security forces are now in control of nine provinces after assuming control of Iraqi’s southern oil hub, Basra, in December. Iraqi forces are also expected to take control in Anbar province, a one-time insurgent stronghold, as early as March.
The ability of Iraqi forces to take the lead in security operations is vital to President George W. Bush’s plan to withdraw 20,000 U.S. troops by the middle of this year.