Iraqis signal long-term security partnership with US

posted at 10:55 am on February 11, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When the US and Iraq signed a status-of-forces agreement last year, many wondered whether we would actually stick around until the end of 2011 as the SOFA established.  After all, Barack Obama had campaigned on a 16-month withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, and some Iraqi politicians insisted on a full withdrawal as soon as possible.  Eli Lake reports that money speaks louder than words in both nations, though, and the money says, “Stick around” (via Jim Geraghty):

As President Obama weighs options for withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq, the country’s military is purchasing American helicopters, cargo planes and tanks equipment that typically requires a prolonged U.S. presence for maintenance and training.

Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, who is in charge of training Iraq’s security services and military, told The Washington Times that some of the ordered equipment would not be delivered until 2012, even though a new status of forces agreement (SOFA) requires all U.S. troops to exit the country by 2011.

Gen. Helmick said the Iraqi military had already ordered 140 M1 Abrams tanks, up to 24 Bell Assault Reconnaissance helicopters and 6 C130-J transport airplanes. The tanks will not be delivered until 2011, and the helicopters and transport planes will not arrive until the end of 2012 or possibly in 2013.

“The government of Iraq does not have to purchase that kind of equipment from the United States; they have elected to do so,” Gen. Helmick said. “To me that could indicate that the Iraqis would like to have a long-term strategic relationship with the United States.”

It’s not just buying cars on a lot, either.  Defense manufacturers have to have maintenance support agreements to keep these systems in working order, which will last for years past the 2011 SOFA deadline.  The systems require intensive training, an ongoing task that American forces will provide.  The purchase of these systems is a long-term investment, not just in the materiel, but also in the US.  Iraq obviously foresees a long-term strategic partnership with the US that goes far beyond the SOFA timelines.

The Iraqi defense minister will tour the US this month, visiting Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Washington and defense contractors in other areas.  He recently remarked on a tour of South Korea that he sees the Seoul-DC relationship as a model for the US-Iraqi partnership, and hopes to see the same rapid modernization as a result in Iraq.  John McCain expressed the same vision during the presidential campaign, and Obama derided it as “100 years of war”.

The tune out of Washington appears to be changing, though.  Now a Defense spokesperson says that Obama has always seen the need for a significant residual force to remain in Iraq, a position which Obama adopted as soon as Hillary Clinton exited the race.  But the tune has changed in Iraq as well, thanks to the ascendance of Nouri al-Maliki and the collapse of political support for Moqtada al-Sadr and other theocrats.  The provincial elections showed religious parties, which provided most of the demands for US withdrawal, enjoy much less support than before.

Secular politicians have gained the upper hand in Iraq, and they will take a much more pragmatic view of their national interests — especially considering their geographic position between Iran and Syria.  They need a strong partner to rebuild their strength, and the US needs a strong partner to offset Tehran’s influence in the region.  Those interests will coincide for much longer than three years.  The Obama administration appears to be realizing this and acting on it, albeit very, very quietly.


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I assume that is a good thing.

Mr. Joe on February 11, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Mission Accomplished, when’s the parade down Constitution Avenue?

NoDonkey on February 11, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Thank you, President Bush.

bloggless on February 11, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Thank Gaia that Ogabe was so steadfast in his support of the surge and has such an intuitive grasp of the regional situation; the man is a geopolitical master.

In ten years our kids will be reading textbooks which extol how the visionary Barack Ogabe brought Iraq from the brink of ruin to steadfast middle eastern ally.

Bishop on February 11, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Secular politicians have gained the upper hand in Iraq, and they will take a much more pragmatic view of their national interests — especially considering their geographic position between Iran and Syria.

Headlines will read: “Morrissey ardent secularist!”

Trent1289 on February 11, 2009 at 11:05 AM

Now a Defense spokesperson says that Obama has always seen the need for a significant residual force to remain in Iraq

…and we have always been at war with Oceana.

commenter on February 11, 2009 at 11:05 AM

Move our bases out of Western Europe and move them Poland and Iraq. Just like the game of Risk!

WashJeff on February 11, 2009 at 11:10 AM

Now a Defense spokesperson says that Obama has always seen the need for a significant residual force to remain in Iraq

So does that mean the ANSWER rallies against the war this summer will feature giant Obama puppets?

Better start working now on the ears, they may rival the Washington Monument in size.

NoDonkey on February 11, 2009 at 11:11 AM

Now a Defense spokesperson says that Obama has always seen the need for a significant residual force to remain in Iraq

…and we have always been at war with Oceana Iran. And that’s the truth.

SPCOlympics on February 11, 2009 at 11:12 AM

Obama has always seen the need for a significant residual force to remain in Iraq

Obama has always said what he said most recently, except when it contradicts what he said last year. Change we can believe in.

Although welcome in this case. Obama has inherited a stable, peaceful ally in Iraq from President Bush and General Petraeus. No need to rock the boat to prove a point–he already won the election!

Steve Z on February 11, 2009 at 11:13 AM

Ummm… this type of agreement does not have to reach the Presidential, or even high policy, level.

These are sales… yes they will be Vetted by State… but that part of the process has not happened yet… and in this poor economy, cash will trump politics anyway.

Fact is that we have the most combat tested equipment in the world right now… and it works… you’d have to be a dolt not to buy that equipment if it was available, even with the very minor strings that Bambi’s non effective Administration will place on the sale.

Romeo13 on February 11, 2009 at 11:20 AM

Suck it, libtards.

BadgerHawk on February 11, 2009 at 11:22 AM

Mission Accomplished, when’s the parade down Constitution Avenue?

NoDonkey on February 11, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Sorry, this is reserved only for Democrat victories.

TheSitRep on February 11, 2009 at 11:22 AM

Gen. Helmick said the Iraqi military had already ordered 140 M1 Abrams tanks

Is the US still producing new M1s, or are these refurbished?

DarkCurrent on February 11, 2009 at 11:22 AM

Thank you, President Bush.

bloggless on February 11, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Absolutely.

ladyingray on February 11, 2009 at 11:23 AM

It takes more than 2 years to create a military capable of defending a country with the population the size of Iraq. Ask any infantry soldier or marine that has more than 5 years in service. They will tell you that they were not ready for combat until their second year of intense year-round training.

leetpriest on February 11, 2009 at 11:23 AM

The surge worked, Bush was right, nuf said…

Mark Garnett on February 11, 2009 at 11:24 AM

DarkCurrent on February 11, 2009 at 11:22 AM

My son’s regiment received (XXX) shiney new M1A2Sep2s about 18 months ago.

Limerick on February 11, 2009 at 11:26 AM

In ten years our kids will be reading textbooks which extol how the visionary Barack Ogabe brought Iraq from the brink of ruin to steadfast middle eastern ally.

Bishop on February 11, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Don’t worry, BO has 4 years to screw it up. Then the textbooks will just emphasize what an Iraq mess BO inherited when he came to town.

Youngs98 on February 11, 2009 at 11:29 AM

Sorry, this is reserved only for Democrat victories.

Oh, that’s right, we can well afford $200 million for Obama’s coronation but a parade for our troops?

That would be vulgar.

NoDonkey on February 11, 2009 at 11:30 AM

Limerick on February 11, 2009 at 11:26 AM

That’s good to hear! I was watching a program on Discovery (I think) a few months back and it was stated that M1 production runs were finished and the factory was now employed upgrading previously produced units but not building entirely new ones.

DarkCurrent on February 11, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Sorry, this is reserved only for Democrat victories.

Oh, that’s right, we can well afford $200 million for Obama’s coronation but a parade for our troops?

That would be vulgar.

Actually they’ll come up with a compromise. Returning forces will have their victory parade if they agree to march with BO on their shoulders chanting “Hail, Obama!”

SPCOlympics on February 11, 2009 at 11:35 AM

George W. Bush… The 43rd President of the United States of America, presided over the beginning of the US response to the War of Terror (aka… World Wide Islamo-Fascist Terrorism), stabbed in the back by the Dems/libbies of America… Still managed to win a few major battles before the One (aka… The Mess-I-uh) tried to lose said War on Terror.

RalphyBoy on February 11, 2009 at 11:41 AM

I hope the Iraqis can come and save us and teach us about representative democracy in a republic some day and repay the favor… maybe some hints on counter-insurgency in the desert southwest and Mexico, too.

ajacksonian on February 11, 2009 at 11:46 AM

Because of a decision made by one Man before March 2003, the Middle East is being transformed before our eyes. This journey began with a decision to force change in Islam through the sterling behavioral and professional example of American troops, American might, and American compassion and ingenuity. In 10 or 15 years, none of us will recognize this world or how the Evil in it was conquered…. by the shot of an M-16 rifle, by the sweat off a US contractor’s brow, by the tears of American and Iraqi Mothers, and by the guts and determination of the American Soldier.

Our kids will owe much to the Man who made that decision, and to those who carried out his orders.

We aren’t worth their spit unless we honor that decision and the thousands of lives spent achieving its goal.

Subsunk

Subsunk on February 11, 2009 at 12:29 PM

I’ve always wondered if selling much of our in-country equipment would be how the Democrats could get our troops out of Iraq quicker. No need to clean and ship it, if it’s going to stay anyway.

MarkTheGreat on February 11, 2009 at 12:40 PM

See I knew once we elected The One™ the Muslims would like us.

johnsteele on February 11, 2009 at 1:09 PM

Shhhhhh! Nobody tell Code Pink, OK?

Kafir on February 11, 2009 at 1:25 PM

Subsunk on February 11, 2009 at 12:29 PM

Absolutely!

I’d only offer two words:

Our kids and insert The World

Because if it had not been for George W. Bush the world would have slept through the slow and steady creep of Islamofascism and never would it had been forced to raise its ugly head.

Texas Gal on February 11, 2009 at 1:44 PM

Mission Accomplished. (No Sarc.)

Little Boomer on February 11, 2009 at 1:49 PM

An M-1 Abrams needs 12 hours of maintenance for every 1 hour of normal operation. We’ll be there maintaining them for quite a while before the Iraqis can do it themselves.

thuljunior on February 11, 2009 at 2:05 PM

n M-1 Abrams needs 12 hours of maintenance for every 1 hour of normal operation.

So what else does it have in common with a US Senator, toxic emissions?

NoDonkey on February 11, 2009 at 2:18 PM

“Is the US still producing new M1s, or are these refurbished?”

The IA will get refurbed M1A1s, IIRC. They had signed the MOU/MOA while I was still working for MNSTC-I

major john on February 11, 2009 at 2:23 PM

I wish I had been in on this discussion…
Maybe someone will come back and answer this question…
My source tells me that the air bases out in Anbar will under US control indefinitely... any truth to that?

jerrytbg on February 11, 2009 at 7:18 PM

LAW’s (Light Anti-Tank Weapons) would be better.

For Iran’s tanks.

And attack copters.

Tanks in a desert country are sitting ducks.

But good for priming U.S. defense industry dollars evidently.

profitsbeard on February 11, 2009 at 9:58 PM

Security partnership as long as Leftists and Isolationists are not in charge in the U.S.

trl on February 12, 2009 at 4:33 AM