General Martin Dempsey is the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff (below on the right, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is to his left).
In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Iraq, last Tuesday, the general discussed enduring US bases in Iraq. Transcript via C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and click here to stream an archived broadcast of the hearing.
Senator Kay Hagan: Well with the drawdown taking place in less than two months, what is your outlook for the ability to continue this training process to enable them to continue to do this on their own?
General Martin Dempsey: Well they will be limited. They don't have the airlift to deliver them to the target that we might have been able to provide. They don't have the ISR target to keep persistent surveillance over the top of the target. So they'll be limited to ground movement and they'll be limited to human intelligence and we'll keep -- But part of the Office of Security Cooperation provides the trainers to keep the training to develop those other areas, but we're some time off in reaching that point.
Senator Kay Hagan: We'll, as we continue this drawdown of our military personnel from Iraq, I really remain concerned about their force protection -- the individuals that will be remaining in Iraq. So what are the remaining challenges for our military personnel in Iraq in terms of managing their vulnerabilities, managing their exposures during the drawdown?
General Martin Dempsey: Senator, are you talking about getting from 24,000, the existing force now and having it retrograde through Kuwait?
Senator Kay Hagan: The ones that will remain over there.
General Martin Dempsey: The ones that will remain --
Senator Kay Hagan: Their protection.
General Martin Dempsey: Yes, Senator. Well, they will have -- First and foremost, we've got ten Offices of Security Cooperation in Iraq bases. And their activities will largely be conducted on these bases because their activities are fundamentally oriented on delivering the foreign military sales. So F-16s get delivered, there's a team there to help new equipment training and-and helping Iraq understand how to use them to establish air sovereignty. Or there's a 141 M1 Tanks right now, generally located at a tank gunnery range in Besmaya, east of Baghdad and the team supporting that training stays on Besmaya so this isn't about us moving around the country very much at all. This is about our exposure being limited to 10 enduring, if you will, Offices of Security Cooperation base camps. And doing the job of educating and training and equipping on those ten bases. Host nation is always responsible for the outer parameter. We'll have contracted security on the inner parameter. And these young men and women will always have responsibility for their own self-defense.
Senator Kay Hagan: So we'll have contracted security on the inner-paramenter?
General Martin Dempsey: That's right.