While Islamic State is preparing to launch a new assault on another major city in the Anbar Province in Iraq, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno took the unusual step of criticizing his own Commander in Chief in the White House
In an interview with FOX News, Odierno said the United States could have prevented the rise of Islamic State.
The Chief of Staff, who will retire in a few weeks, indicated that the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq had been a mistake.
If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it (rise of ISIS) might have been prevented. 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 said he was frustrated to watch the rise of Islamic State and reminded his interviewer of the relatively good situation in Iraq from 2007 until 2010.
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.
Odierno had tried to convince the Obama administration in 2009 that 30,000-35,000 troops should remain in Iraq after the end of 2011 when the U.S. forces were scheduled to withdraw from Iraq, but to no avail.
The General indicated that the Obama administration had sidelined him on all issues related to Iraq after the U.S. army pulled out of the country.
“All my work was given to (Joint Chiefs) Chairman (Martin) Dempsey,” the general said, later adding: “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.”
The White House also didn’t consult the Chief of Staff when Islamic State started to seize large swaths of territory in Iraq in 2014, Fox News noted.
General Odierno was the mastermind behind the surge in Iraq and has spent more than four years in the country.
He not only criticized the administration’s Iraq policies but also indicated he was against the decision to reduce the standing army from 570,000 troops in 2010 to near 490,000 in 2015.
“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,” said Gen. Odierno.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, Islamic State is preparing for an assault on the strategically important city of Haditha in east Anbar, the province that is already largely under ISIS control.
The Washington Post and the British paper The Independent reported that Islamic State had warned local Sunni leaders that its fighters could enter the city “at any moment.”
The city is under intense pressure after Islamic State launched an offensive early July. The organization used 37 suicide car bombs during that attack, but local Sunni tribes and the Iraqi army were able to repel the assault. The combined Iraqi forces in Haditha have resisted Islamic State for 18 months, but now they do not seem able to hold out much longer.
The city is largely cut off from the outside world, since Islamic State seized supply routes and started to lay siege to Haditha.
Conquest of the city would be a major feat for Islamic State because of the nearby Haditha dam, which is Iraq’s second largest producer of hydro-electric power. Islamic State wants the dam to boost electricity supply to the areas under its control.
Reporters who visited the city recently describe an extremely difficult humanitarian situation in the city. Food is running low, and prices of basic foodstuff have skyrocketed. Doctors have fled the city, and there is a severe shortage of medicines.
“In April and May, the price of a 50-kilogram sack of flour reached 1 million dinars, or about $840. That’s the equivalent of about $38 for a five-pound bag, around 50 times what it costs in Baghdad and roughly 10 times the price in the United States,” the Washington Post reported.
Recently, prices have dropped somewhat after the arrival of a couple of aid convoys in the city.
“The U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi military have provided critical assistance because of the town’s strategic dam and its vicinity to Ayn al-Asad, where more than 300 U.S. Marines are based on a training mission.
“The dam is so important that the U.S. government expanded its air campaign against the Islamic State in September to prevent it from falling into the militants’ hands. Until then, the airstrikes in Iraq had been limited to areas near Sinjar mountain and the Kurdish region in the north,” The Washington Post reported.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth