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thedrifter
03-02-09, 08:25 AM
Mullen: Military situation in Iraq 'better
Published: March 1, 2009 at 8:45 PM

WASHINGTON, March 1 (UPI) -- The chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff said Sunday conditions in Iraq have changed "dramatically" and the military situation "has gotten a lot better."

Adm. Mike Mullen, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," was reminded of an observation he made on the program in July 2008 that the consequences of a timeline for pulling troops out of Iraq "could be very dangerous." He said Sunday, however, that a timeline now would not be dangerous.

"Well, conditions have changed fairly dramatically since last July," Mullen said. "In particular, the military situation as a result of the surge has gotten a lot better. Iraq security forces have improved. And those kinds of things -- all those trends are in the right direction."

Mullen noted that a timetable had been imposed since July, in the form of the status of forces agreement that "requires us to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011." He said he was confident the United States could "address any issues that come up with respect to change in conditions" in Iraq. He added, however, he is "optimistic that conditions continue to improve."

Asked about the prospects the United States might save hundreds of billions of dollars by reducing operations in Iraq, Mullen said he hadn't "looked out that far in terms of the specific projections" but he said there would be costs attached to withdrawing from Iraq and increased troop strength would add to the cost of the military operation in Afghanistan.

Ellie