Josh Rogin reports that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta this morning told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iraq is ready to defend itself.
Oh goodie. So this means we won’t have to be giving the Iraqi government $2.4 billion in aid each year? And the State Department doesn’t have to have tens of thousands of employees there which they describe as necessary to provide “situational awareness around the country, manage political crises in potential hotspots such as Kirkuk, and provide a platform for delivering economic, development and security assistance,” right? They won’t have to manage “two of the largest Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programs in the world and to spend the $2.55 billion in Iraq Security Forces Fund (ISFF)” either right? Oh, and that $82 million worth of arms and military equipment being sent to the Iraqi government, we can just keep all of that, eh? And that “fleet of 46 aircraft” that will be “based and maintained in Baghdad, Basra, and Erbil” and will include 20 medium lift S-61 helicopters, 18 light lift UH-1N helicopters, three light observation MD-530 helicopters, and five Dash 8 fixed wing aircraft, can just be withdrawn, correct? And those 7,000 private mercenary soldiers…they won’t be needed, I’m sure.
Oh, he didn’t quite mean that. Ok. Well, maybe Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who testified with Panetta, can clarify:
“This departure does not mark the end of our military-to-military relationship with Iraq, but rather the transition toward a normal one,” Dempsey said, according to prepared remarks.