General Who Trained Iraqi Troops: U.S. ‘Must Stiffen the Spine’ of Iraqis

by Andrew Johnson

Iraqi troops’ failure to defend the country against Islamist militants is “tragic” to witness for retired major general Paul Eaton, who commanded American operations to train Iraqi troops. But, he said, he thinks “we can take [Iraq] back” with the appropriate steps.

Eaton was confident that the Iraqi government could defend the country, pointing to the the Iraqi troops’ larger numbers and superior equipment. But the U.S. needs to play a role in helping to “stiffen the spine” of the Iraqi military, he said on CNN, by providing senior advisers and intelligence to Iraqi government. He remained opposed to air strikes for the time being until further intelligence could be gathered. Once Baghdad is secure, he said, then the military can move forward from there.

“We can establish fortress Baghdad, from which we can sally forth and retake the terrain we’ve lost to this group, this ISIS group,” Eaton said.