Now that he is retiring, Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno is a lot more free to speak his mind – and he did just that for Fox News.
The General addressed the rise of ISIS, ever deepening cuts to US troop levels, and how the US could have prevented the rise of ISIS.
Widely seen as one of the architects behind the troop surge that is credited with bringing Iraq under control, Odierno says American foreign policy will face serious repercussions as the cuts to our armed forces continue.
He told Fox News: “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.”
“I believe they [America’s enemies] question whether we will be able to respond and so they’re willing to take maybe a bit more risk than they might have just a few years ago.”
Odierno specifically discussed the U.S. troop withdrawal and subsequent rise of ISIS originally in Syria and spreading to Iraq.
“It’s frustrating to watch it,” 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.
“If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it 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.”
As the top commander in Iraq in 2009, Odierno recommended keeping 30,000-35,000 U.S. troops on the ground after the scheduled 2011 pull out. That recommendation was overruled by the Obama Administration.
In 2009, while still the top commander in Iraq, Odierno recommended keeping 30,000-35,000 U.S. troops after the end of 2011, when the U.S. was scheduled to pull out. The recommendation was not followed.
Asked if it was a mistake to pull out, the General said: “I think it would have been good for us to stay.”