Although the US military’s withdrawal from Iraq is going according to plan so far, Iraq is still a dangerous place, said Army Gen. Bernard Champoux, commanding general of the last division headquarters under US Forces-Iraq. Speaking to reporters Thursday via teleconference from his headquarters, Champoux said the security situation remains demanding. For example, on Monday, an improvised explosive device killed a US soldier who was en route from a forward operating base in Taji to another base, he said. “There still are some areas that cause us concern, unfortunately,” said Champoux. “Wherever our bases are, we’ve been receiving some indirect fire. And, the routes that we’ve been using to move on [have] been receiving attention from these extremist groups through roadside bombs and those kinds of things.” Champoux said the Iraqis will continue to face challenges from extremists, including some backed by the Iranians, after the US pullout is complete in December. However, he said, “the trends have been fairly positive.” (Champoux transcript)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.