Staying Longer

Airmen at a townhall session with Defense Secretary Bob Gates at FOB Warrior in Iraq learned first-hand that the US Air Force could remain in Iraq after the main US troop pullout. Asked about USAF assistance to the Iraqi Air Force, he said, “I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see agreements between ourselves and the Iraqis that continues a ‘train, equip, and advise’ role beyond the end of 2011.” In fact, he said the same applies to Afghanistan. Both countries, he said, recognize that “kind of role is very likely to continue beyond the end of our combat operations.” Gates acknowledged there are no current long-term agreements, but he said in recent discussion with the Iraqi Prime Minister “about their equipment purchases, training, and so on as they look at 2012 and beyond, and they clearly have some concerns.” (DOD transcript)