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American Forces Press Service

Odierno: More Time May Be Needed for Iraq Assessment

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2007 – While military leaders will present an assessment of the progress of the new strategy in Iraq by a September deadline, a U.S. military commander in Iraq said it may be too soon to get a good feel for progress in the country.

Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, said in a Pentagon news conference that the nature of counterinsurgency warfare is such that more time may be needed to adequately assess the situation on the ground. The 2007 Emergency Supplemental signed by President Bush May 25 calls for the assessment in September.

While some of the forces that arrived in Baghdad as part of the surge have been in the country since February, other brigades will not arrive until the middle of next month.

“The full impact of the surge, in my mind, will not be able to be assessed until about August timeframe, and that's when they'll be in place 60 days,” Odierno said via teleconference from Baghdad. “So that'll be the first time I'll be able to make a real initial assessment of the true effect of the surge.”

He said he may decide he hasn’t had enough time to gauge the effect and that will reflect in the report.

“The assessment might be I've seen enough and it's effective, or I've seen enough and it's not going to be effective,” he said. “Right now if you asked me, I would tell you I'd probably need a little bit more time to do a true assessment.”

Everything in Iraq is subject to quick changes, Odierno said. He said the situation is like a teeter-totter.

“You work your way up the teeter-totter, and when you go past the tipping point, it happens very quickly, and we've seen that out in Anbar,” he said. “We're still going up that teeter-totter, and I'm not sure how long it's going to take us to get to that tipping point or if I believe or assess that we can't get to that tipping point. And that's why I got to just look at it.”

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