He spent 39 years in uniform, was a Top Commander in Iraq, and considered a key architect of the Iraq surge. Now, before his retirement as Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Ray Odierno says in an exclusive interview with Fox News, “Iraq didn’t need to collapse.”
The Army’s top officer said in his exit interview, “It’s frustrating to watch the gains he helped achieve in Iraq disintegrate at the hands of the Islamic State.”
Odierno believes that if the United States stayed more engaged, and if the Iraqi government had cooperated, the rise of ISIS may have been prevented.
He adds, the US Military’s role as “honest broker” between all the groups was lost, when our troops pulled out.
While still the top commander in Iraq in 2009, Odierno recommended keeping 30,000-35,000 U.S. troops after the end of 2011. He’s extremely concerned about the deep cuts to the Army over the last four years.
He says their missions before were already on the “razor’s edge,” with 490,000 soldiers. Now, with that number expected to go down to 450,000, Odierno believes they will have to stop doing something.
With all the emerging threats around the world, Odierno says the decrease in the number of soldiers is frightening. “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.”
He says with the deep cuts to our Military, our adversaries around the globe may begin to question whether we will be able to respond, and may take more risks than they might have just a few years ago.
“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.