US military leaders are comfortable with a 2011 deadline for the withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq but it should depend on conditions on the ground, the US military chief has said.
""I do think it is important that this be conditions-based," Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters.
A US-Iraqi agreement approved over the weekend by the Iraqi cabinet calls for all 150,000 US troops to be out of the country by the end of 2001 regardless of the conditions on the ground.....
Referring to the 2011 deadline contained in the so-called Status of Forces Agreement reached with Baghdad, Mullen said, "I certainly understand the boundaries."
But he suggested the deal might be revisited at some point between now and then.
"And so three years is a long time. Conditions could change in that period of time," said Adml Mullen, adding the United States will continue to talk with Baghdad "as conditions continue to evolve."
Asked if the agreement could be changed, he said "that's theoretically possible".
Adml Mullen said he had discussed the agreement with General David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in Middle East and southwest Asia, and General Raymond Odierno, the US commander in Iraq.
"We're all very comfortable that we have what we need. Conditions continue to improve," he said.
"Clearly, moving forward in a measured way, tied to conditions as they continue to evolve over time is important," he added......."