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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid