VIA| A top U.S. Army general with nothing left to lose has publicly admittedsomething that conservatives have been saying for a long time — the rise of the Islamic State terror group can be directly attributed to President Barack Obama’s premature withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq.
Outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told Fox News on Wednesday that a continued U.S. troop presence in the region would have kept Iraq on a positive track.
“It’s frustrating to watch it,” Odierno said. “I go back to the work we did in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and we got it to a place that was really good. Violence was low, the economy was growing, politics looked like it was heading in the right direction.”
“I think it would have been good for us to stay,” he said, adding that he had recommended leaving 30,000-35,000 U.S. personnel in Iraq — a recommendation that Obama, in his rush to keep an ill-considered campaign promise to his base, ignored.
“If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it might have been prevented,” Odierno told Fox News. “I’ve always believed the United States played the role of honest broker between all the groups and when we pulled ourselves out, we lost that role.”
Odierno also said that continued troop cuts were impacting the Army’s ability to do its job. In 2010, the Army had 570,000 soldiers, Newsmax reported. That’s down to 490,000 today and slated to hit 450,000.
“In my mind, we don’t have the ability to deter. The reason we have a military is to deter conflict and prevent wars. And if people believe we are not big enough to respond, they miscalculate,” Odierno said.
“When we go to 450, we are going to have to stop doing something,” he added.
The outgoing general said that new threats, including Russian adventurism, the collapse of Iraq and the rise of the Islamic State group made that number “a dangerous balancing act right now with capability.”