Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Best Flag Officer interview of the far

The Navy is right for me, but I always am impressed with the quality of Marine Flag Officers. Case in point.
SPIEGEL: How long will the US be occupied by the operation in Iraq?

Jones: On the scope of things that we're doing, it would be reasonable to expect that it would take a long time, maybe a generation of officers ...

SPIEGEL: ... which means some 10 to 15 years ...

US General James Jones is the supreme NATO commander in Europe.
US General James Jones is the supreme NATO commander in Europe.
Jones: ... yes, but does that mean you have to have 100,000 or 150,000 troops there all the time? Absolutely not. But nor does it mean that there's a day when you can just close the door and say, 'Thank you very much. That's it' like in Vietnam when we flew out on the last day. I think we'll eventually cut back to a mentoring process and there will be a tipping point when the Iraqi security forces will be sufficiently trained and will be adequate in numbers and less reliant on us.
SPIEGEL: The Germans have declined to participate in the Iraq war and they are only engaged in training Iraqi officers outside of the country. They will also not join the risky expansion of peacekeeping forces in southern Afghanistan. Are you disappointed?

Jones: I've learned in the three years I've been in this job that one has to be realistic. NATO is an alliance that works by consensus, but each nation can put its own application of what it wishes to do within that consensus. In Iraq we have a situation where barely half of the allies decided to put troops on the ground -- but they all voted for a mission. So, in their own way, they're doing what they can. I don't have negative feelings about anybody in the alliance on that score. Obviously, it would be wonderful if we could all have no caveats, no restrictions, but that's not the way things are. If we vote to do the job, we must go do it. Of course people are impatient and want quick results and victory with the bands playing, people throwing flowers, triumph after triumph, and a massive celebration within 90 days, and it's over. It's just that life isn't that simple.
Money quote.
SPIEGEL: The US is not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in many other places as well. Worldwide about 350,000 US soldiers are deployed right now. Has America still got the capacity to fight another war if necessary -- for instance if Iran became a serious crisis? And how long could the only superpower sustain another conflict?

Jones: That is a hypothetical question. The US is a big country with many resources and if it chooses to undertake certain things it usually finds a way to do it. But I'm not predicting another conflict. I think we have got enough on our hands right now.
Nuff said.

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