Iraq will need U.S. military support for up to another decade to defend its borders because the Iraqi army won't be ready to guard the country when American troops leave at the end of 2011, according to U.S. and Iraqi commanders.
Commanders say they are reasonably confident in the Iraqi security forces' ability to keep order while facing insurgents or other internal threats.
But when it comes to their capacity to protect against attacks from other nations, it is inconceivable that the Iraqi army will be able to stand alone by the time U.S. troops go home, said Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, commander of the U.S. military training program in Iraq,
Last night the White House said Obama was satisfied that the US could finish its combat role in Iraq safely this month and meet the deadline for removing troops from the country by the end of 2011.
The president was briefed on withdrawal by his national security team and the top US commander in Iraq, Ray Odierno.
The White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "The president heard directly from General Odierno, who said that we were on target to complete our drawdown by the end of August. Already we have removed over 80,000 troops from Iraq since President Obama took office," The Guardian says.