US Defense Secretary Robert Gates Visits Iraq
Robert M. Gates visited Baghdad, Iraq last Thursday. It is said to be his last visit as a US Defense Secretary. There are many things that need to be discussed about the issues involving the US troops. Before the agreement of America and Iraq ends, Gates is meeting with U.S. commanders and Iraqi leaders over the pace of training of national forces to take over security responsibilities from U.S. troops.
There are 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq today, and most of them will withdraw at the end of the year. Meanwhile, Gates is due to leave office with the Department of Defense, even though he has not yet given the day of his departure. The day of his arrival, Gates spoke to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other officials regarding the implementation of the various Iraqi ministries, especially those involved in the defense of their country. He also stated that America and Iraq will continue its long term relationship.
According to Mr. Gates, some US troops may stay if Iraq wants. America and Iraq agreed that 2011 will be the final withdrawal for the US troops. But Iraq will go beyond if Iraq’s government asked for extra help. But Gates said the Iraqi government should request that U.S. troops to stay. This has not happened yet, much to the growing impatience of U.S. commanders, they say they need to know now the plan in 2012.
He also said that they are willing to have their presence beyond that time but they also have a lot of commitments around the world. They are involved in Afghanistan and Libya as well as helping the Japanese government on the recent disaster.
“So if folks here are going to want us to have a presence, we’re going to need to get on with it pretty quickly in terms of our planning,”, Gates added.
“I think there is interest in having a continuing presence. The politics are such that we’ll just have to wait and see because the initiative ultimately has to come from the Iraqis.”, Gates piped up again.
Gates’ press secretary, Geoff Morrell said it was clear from Thursday’s talks that Prime Minister al-Maliki does want US troops to stay beyond 2011. But there are persistent rumors that the U.S. Street have ulterior motives in Iraq, and wants to stay to maintain a better balance in the Middle East and not as a safety net of the national defense of Iraq. U.S. officials openly refusing, saying there are no intentions or plans for a permanent military presence in the country.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told Gates that he expects all U.S. troops to be out of Iraq by the end of the year as required under a 2008 security agreement between Baghdad and Washington, said by the Iraq spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.
Top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, made it clear that Iraq was not ready to defend their country, especially from the skies. He said the Iraqis also need assistance in data collection, logistics and the use of various weapons systems in a consistent way of war. He said there was a discussion of the Iraqi government over whether the U.S. should stay or not, and that the wind does not blow the debate in one direction, “It’s is blowing in every direction.”
He also discussed to the troops that there would be a delay in their pay. A soldier asked him whether he would be paid for his service in Iraq. He said he would be paid but he’s not sure when it is. Gates has also produced this series of events, what might happen in American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere because of the budget showdown.
If the government closes on April 8 to 15, Mr. Gates said that troops would receive half the payroll of April 15. If the government were to remain closed until April 30 Mr. Gates said that the troops would miss a whole check. The troops are usually paid in the first month and on the15th.When the government starts again, Mr. Gates said that the soldiers would receive the wages they were owed.
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Written for DrDinar for the Iraq Dinar community.
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