US commander in Iraq General Ray Odierno today discussed the current Iraq pullout schedule, which would have the 96,000 troops cut to 50,000 by August, and then gone by the end of 2011.
“If you ask me today, I’m fully committed and that’s the right course of action,” Odierno insisted. If you ask him tomorrow, however, he conceded that things might be entirely different.
According to the general, “if something happens” the US has a “plan B” which involves seriously slowing or even entirely stopping the pullout. The “something” seems to be the increase in violence in Iraq.
Which is actually something officials are expecting. One of Gen. Odierno’s top subordinates, Brigadier General Kevin Mangum said only days ago that the “biggest concern” officials have is not the rising violence ahead of the Iraq election, but the prospect of rising violence after the election. Though levels of violence has jumped all over the place in Iraq in recent months, the trend in sectarian tensions is decidedly toward more, a tailor-made excuse for stalling the pullout.