Gen. Dempsey on Iraqi Crisis
In an interview today with , General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Iranian goals in Iraq are not going to be “completely aligned” with those of the U.S., and “we're very clear about that.”
“We will look at Iran with a cold eye on where and when we may need to operate in the same space and toward what is potentially the same goal of countering the ISIL.
“I'm not predicting that it's entirely impossible that we would at any point act collaboratively with Iran...But there's a long way to go between here and there, in my judgment,” Gen. Dempsey said. (NPR, 27 June)
Dempsey also said the primary goal of the U.S. assessment team sent to Iraq was to determine if the Iraqi security forces “can be a credible partner moving forward.” He added that the team of advisors needs to “get a look under the hood” of the Iraqi security forces to determine if they “remain committed to national unity, [what is] the sectarian makeup ... and the morale of the force, as well as understanding what capabilities, weapon systems, ammunition, etc., they have.”
“We're flying a great deal [of] manned and unmanned ... intelligence and reconnaissance assets, and we're building a picture so that if the decision were made to support the Iraqi security forces as they confront [ISIL], we could do so," Dempsey added.
He nonetheless expressed concern that the U.S. not operating in a way as “taking one side or another,” referring to Shia and Sunni adversaries.
“Then ... with Iraq, if it chooses to establish this national unity government," he said, "we will be deliberating on how to push back [ISIL] and take steps to lead to its eventual defeat.” Dempsey said.
File photo: Joint Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey at a news conference at the Pentagon, December 2013. (NPR)