American troops should be out of Iraq within the next two years, the U.S. military’s top commander said Sunday.
"As you ask me today, I believe it's a 10 – that we will be gone by 2011," Gen. Ray Odierno told CNN when asked to gauge, on a scale of one to 10, the likelihood that the withdrawal meet the timeline agreed upon by U.S. and Iraqi governments.
“Obviously, we still have some very serious incidents ... but, again, it's much safer," he said of the war-ravaged region. He cited as proof the fact that only nine troops were killed in fighting last month, the lowest total since the war began six years ago.
"So, there's been a clear improvement of security here," Odierno said. "The issue is: Can we maintain that? Can the Iraqis maintain it? And that's what we're working through now. We want them to be able to maintain this stability as we pull out."
However, in the first half of this month, nine troops already have been killed. But Odierno said that while there are still some terrorist cells “capable of conducting suicide attacks,” their threat is “very small.”