In comments released in the US Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction (SIGIR) report, the Iraqi military’s chief warned that Iraq wouldn’t be “fully ready” to fight wars until between 2020 and 2024.
Lt. Gen. Babakir Zebari’s estimate came because he said the newly created Iraqi Air Force, which is still getting its US-made warplanes, won’t be able to control the nation’s air space until that time.
“An army without an air force is exposed,” Zebari warned. The comments were likely among those the Obama Administration unsuccessfully used to press Iraq to allow US soldiers to remain in the country beyond December.
Zebari also warned that while Iraq “have no enemies, we also have no real friends.” With Turkey’s military attacking northern Iraq, the nation’s ability to project its military internally remains a priority for the Maliki government.