Praise, but no Iraq timeline

Jan. 18, 2008 at 8:31 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Top U.S. generals in Iraq said Thursday they could not commit to how independent the Iraqi forces must be before the United States can withdraw completely.

"Even as our combat roles go down, our enabling roles will continue for some time," Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik, commanding general of the Multi-National Security Transition Command in Iraq, told the House Armed Services Committee. "The truth is that they cannot fix, supply, arm or fuel themselves completely enough at this point."

Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qadir said earlier this week that Iraq might be able to handle its internal security by early next year and external security by 2018.

But the U.S. military is making its judgments on 90-day cycles, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps in Iraq, said from Iraq in a video news conference.

During Dubik's testimony, House members pressed for a troop withdrawal timeline.

"Most Americans would like to know that some day our presence would no longer be needed," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett R-Md.. "Americans would like to have a chart on their refrigerator that looks to when we can get out."

Dubik responded: "Put no number on the refrigerator."


Elizabeth Gibson, Medill News Service

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