Army chief ‘somewhat’ confident Iraq can defend Baghdad

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said Monday he is “somewhat” confident that the Iraqi army can defend Baghdad from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“I believe the capability is there to defend Baghdad. … But we’ll have to see what plays out over the coming days,” he told reporters at the Association of the United States Army on Monday.

{mosads}Defense officials are urging patience with the U.S. strategy against ISIS, even as the group makes gains in western Iraq and on the Syrian border town of Kobani.

ISIS appears to be advancing closer and closer to Baghdad, however, where at least several hundred American troops and civilians are stationed. 

On Sunday, ISIS militants assassinated the police chief of Anbar province, Ahmed Saddag Al-Dulaimi, and on Saturday launched bomb attacks north of Baghdad and into the northern part of the city, killing 48 and injuring 105, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey told ABC News in an interview that aired Sunday that ISIS could be within striking distance of Baghdad.

“Heretofore, we’ve been successful — mostly the Iraqis have been successful — in keeping them out of range. But I have no doubt there will be days when they use indirect fire into Baghdad,” he said.

Dempsey said ISIS has come as close as 20 to 25 kilometers of the Baghdad airport, but that the U.S. would defend the airport, where hundreds of troops and U.S. aircraft are based.

“We’re not going to allow that to happen. We need that airport,” he said.

Dempsey pushed back against doubts that the U.S.-led airstrike campaign against ISIS was working to degrade the terrorist group, which he said was adjusting to the attacks.

“You have to be able to look at right now and you have to understand what it’s going to take over time to deliver a campaign objective,” he said.

“It wasn’t so long ago that we were talking about the imminent fall of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan regional government. It wasn’t so long ago when the U.S. embassy was actually feeling threatened in Baghdad. None of those are part of the landscape right now,” he said.

Tags Iraq ISIS
See all Hill.TV See all Video