What’s Next in Iraq?

Although the current agreement with Iraq calls for US military personnel to exit that nation by year’s end, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he sees some benefits to keeping between 8,000 and 15,000 troops there for longer to continue training Iraqi forces. “[The Iraqis] still have a lot of work to do with logistics and things like intelligence,” he told soldiers last week at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. “They basically have no air defense capability.” Gates said Iraqi officials can see benefits to keeping a modest US presence, but the idea remains “political dynamite” for them. “So the question that is unsettled at this point is whether the Iraqi leadership will come together and all the different factions will hold hands and jump off the cliff together in terms of seeking authority and going forward with a continuing US presence,” he said. (AFPS report by John D. Banusiewicz)