Ask the Expert: Lawrence J. Korb on the Iraq troop withdrawal
What does the Iraq troop withdrawal mean for Iraq going forward?
Well, I think what it means is two things. One, the United States is no longer going to take the lead in dealing with threats to Iraq security. Number two, it means that really the future of Iraq is in the hands of the Iraqis. The United States has done just about everything it can.
What will the United States' role in Iraq be now?
I think what the United States' role in Iraq will be what it has really been since June 2009 when the Iraqis insisted that we leave the cities and towns, go back to the bases, and we could only come out with their assistance or their request. And I think that's exactly what's going to happen now. If the Iraqis need us they'll call on us, we'll work with them as they ask to improve their capabilities, we'll provide them with state-of-the-art equipment.
What does the drawdown in Iraq mean for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan?
I think it means two things. I think first of all it means that we can keep the troop levels in Afghanistan at the level President Obama wants, which is roughly 100,000 and give the troops more time at home in between deployments. You should have two years at home for every year that you spend in a combat zone. With the drawdown in Iraq we can get beyond one year, which has been the norm where we've had a lot of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. And I also think that it means we can focus more now on Afghanistan. That had kind of been the stepchild ever since President Bush decided to invade Iraq in 2003. It had not been at the top of the attention of the administration.