Troops May Be Stationed in Iraq Past 2011, Army General Says

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Photo: Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Though the last U.S. brigade combat team left Iraq last week, top commander Army General Ray Odierno said today troops will likely stay in the country for longer than the president’s scheduled 2011 withdrawal date. The complete pull-out seems to be predicated on how long it will take to teach the Iraqi army about the weapon systems so that they are equipped and prepared to defend the country.

"If the government of Iraq requests some technical assistance in fielding systems that allow them to continue to protect themselves, some external threats, we could be here," Odierno said on State of The Union. "If that's what we're talking about, potentially, we could be [in Iraq] beyond 2011.”

But Odierno said he is optimistic that, eventually, the Iraqi forces will be able to run the country’s security system on their own, though he wasn’t exactly emphatic about it. They’ll be “[up to the task] because they continue to grow,” he said.

Gen. Odierno warns troops may stay in Iraq well beyond Obama's 2011 withdrawal target [NYDN]