Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno says the United States could have prevented the rise of ISIS in Iraq. When speaking of seeing the chaos brought on by the rise of ISIS in Iraq, the Army’s top officer and key architect of the Iraq War surge said, “It’s frustrating to watch it. If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it might have been prevented.” In the same interview which you can watch below, Odierno discussed the deep cuts to the Army over the past four years and those cuts will harm the security of the United States and our allies.
Rise of ISIS was Not Inevitable
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, who spent more time in Iraq than any other U.S. Army general, addressed the issue of the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in a recent interview with Fox News. Odierno felt that “the fall of large parts of Iraq was not inevitable.”
The U.S. Army General felt that the pace of the U.S. military troop withdrawal was a key factor in the rise of ISIS in Iraq. In fact, it was Odierno who felt that the United States should have kept 30,000-35,000 U.S. troops after the end of 2011 and he made that recommendation – one which was ignored.
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.”
Further, when ISIS took over large portions of Iraq last year including its second-largest city, Mosul, the White House apparently didn’t reach out to the Army officer who had spent more time commanding U.S. forces than anyone else.
“All my work was given to [Joint Chiefs] Chairman [Martin] Dempsey,” Odiernio said. “I never talked directly to the president about it at that time, but I talked to the secretary of defense and I’m sure he relayed all of my thoughts,” he added.
Army Cuts Harm Ability to Deter
Another topic Odierno, who is weeks away from retirement after 39 years in uniform, spoke on during the interview was his feeling regarding the Army announcement of an additional cut of 40,000 troops, which would take the Army down to 450,000 soldiers.
The Army general once felt the cuts wouldn’t be as harmful as he sees them now with the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Russia reasserting itself in Europe. Now that the world has changed, Odierno stated, “So, with Russia becoming more of a threat, with ISIS becoming more of a threat, in my mind, we are on a dangerous balancing act right now with capability.”
Fox News Interview with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno