News / USA

Gates Calls for Continued US Iraq Role

Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaking at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2011.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaking at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2011.
Al Pessin

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that the United States should maintain a troop presence in Iraq after the scheduled full withdrawal at the end of this year, in part, to balance Iran's influence in the region.  

Secretary Gates said Iraqi military officers know they will continue to need U.S. help after the end of the year, particularly on air defense, intelligence gathering and analysis, and logistics.  The problem, he said, is that the U.S. military presence is not popular in Iraq, making it difficult for the country’s political leaders to ask for it to continue. “From the standpoint of Iraq’s future, but also our role in the region, I hope they figure out a way to ask.  And I think that the United States will be willing to say, ‘Yes,’ when that time comes," he said.

Gates said that despite domestic pressure to reduce military spending, the United States should agree to keep some troops in Iraq, if asked.  He said it is worthwhile for the United States to support Iraq’s democracy and to sustain progress made with the help of American money and lives lost in the war.  He also noted a strategic reason.  

“I think it also sends a powerful signal to the region that we’re not leaving, that we will continue to play a part.  I think it would be reassuring to the [Persian] Gulf states.  I think it would not be reassuring to Iran, and that’s a good thing.  I think it would be reassuring elsewhere in the region as well, beyond the Gulf.  So I think that there is a mutual interest, both in Iraq and in the United States, in sustaining this relationship," he said.

Gates’ comments on Iraq came in answer to a question after a speech on global U.S. defense priorities, in which he urged budget-cutters in Congress and the Obama Administration not to lose sight of what he called “absolutely critical” military programs as they look to reduce defense spending.  His list includes the new U.S. fighter jet, the F-35, more ships for the Navy, and investment in ground forces to help them recover from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

He declined to offer specific proposals for cuts, a decision his press secretary says was designed not to limit the options his successor might submit to the president.  But Gates argued against broad cuts that affect all programs, and he said the president's desired level of national security cuts, $400 billion over 12 years, can not be achieved by efficiencies alone, and will involve real reductions in capabilities.

“This process must be about identifying options for the president and the Congress, to ensure the nation consciously acknowledges and accepts additional risk in exchange for reduced investment in the military," he said.

Secretary Gates chose an appearance at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research to repeat his view that the process of cutting defense spending should be a strategic exercise, not a mathematical one.  Many people in his audience are strong advocates of defense spending, who also want deep federal spending cuts to reduce the government's budget deficit.  

Gates has been making a series of speeches on issues that concern him as he approaches his voluntary departure from office at the end of June, after four and a half years serving President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More