The Journal’s David Feith interviews Gen. Raymond Odierno:
Gen. Odierno says that the moment he first thought a surge could work was in December 2006, when he learned that seven of Anbar Province’s 13 tribes had decided to fight al Qaeda and join the political process. Fitting, since counterinsurgency doctrine emphasizes the imperative of earning the trust and support of the local population.
But trust earned must become trust maintained. That’s the challenge going forward. Already some senior Iraqi leaders are suggesting that the U.S. drawdown is overly hasty. Lt. Gen. Babakir Zebari, the chief of staff of the Iraqi joint forces, said last month that “the U.S. army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020.” Ayad Allawi, the leading vote-getter in March’s election, recently agreed: “It may well take another 10 years,” he told Der Spiegel.
Gen. Odierno says he isn’t surprised by such comments. He adds: “If the new [Iraqi] government comes on board and says we still think we need some assistance beyond 2011 . . . I think we’ll listen.”