ODIERNO ON IRAQ: “WE FOUND OUT WE DIDN’T HAVE A FULL UNDERSTANDING OF THE INNER WORKINGS OF IRAQ WHEN WE GOT IN THERE. I CALL IT THE SOCIETAL DEVASTATION”
Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno discussed the challenges endured and the road ahead for the United States Army in Iraq and Afghanistan with co-hosts Charlie Rose and Erica Hill, live today, June 15, 2012, on CBS THIS MORNING on the CBS Television Network (7:00 AM – 9:00 AM).
Below is an excerpt from the interview.
ROSE: What's the most important lesson the Army learned from Iraq?
ODIERNO: We found out we didn't have a full understanding of the inner workings of Iraq when we got in there. I call it the societal devastation of Iraq that occurred over the previous 20 years. We had a misunderstanding of that. We didn't understand the complexities that were underneath the society, we didn't have an understanding of this, so once we remove the dictator, the complexities started to boil. What the Army did learn is that we can adapt. When we figured out the environment, we were able to adapt our operations and able to gain some success in Iraq. I'm pretty proud of that.
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ROSE: What do you say to battalions that are going to Afghanistan and they know there's a drawdown that's coming and they know that there's a date specific, 2014? What do you say to them about the mission and what do you say about what's required of them?
ODIERNO: What's interesting is many of those have been there before. They see the changes that are going on in Afghanistan. So, they understand their mission is changing. They understand that where we're at now is really about putting the Afghan Army out in front the next couple of years. Yes, we're still doing combat operations. We still do operations jointly. The mission now is to do that. In two years, they'll have the capability to provide security when we leave.
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