Washington, Nov 18 : Commenting on the recent troops-withdrawal pact between the Iraqi cabinet and the US, American top military officer Admiral Michael Mullen has said that the timing of that withdrawal should be based on "security conditions on the ground".
Though, he added that the US military would require two to three years to remove its roughly 150,000 troops and "awful lot" of equipment from Iraq safely.
He said there were some logistical hurdles to a US troop withdrawal along a fixed timeframe.
"To remove the entire force would be, you know, two to three years. We have 150,000 troops in Iraq right now. We have lots of bases. We have an awful lot of equipment that's there. And so we would have to look at all of that tied to, obviously, the conditions that are there, literally the security conditions. Clearly, we'd want to be able to do it safely," the Washington Post quoted Mullen as saying while speaking to reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
Mullen said that he and the top commanders for Iraq and the region, Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Ray Odierno, were "comfortable" with the status of forces agreement signed with Iraq.
About a requirement that US troops move out of Iraqi cities by mid-2009, Mullen said the gradual shift from urban areas has been the practice as Iraqi forces take responsibility for security in different provinces. "But, the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and northern city of Mosul were likely to pose special challenges," he said and added: "Turning the security of Baghdad over in that requirement will be a big challenge. The other that is clearly not secure up north is Mosul. And, we continue to be in a pretty tough fight up in Mosul."
He added: "We're always taking into consideration plans based on what we understand possibilities might be. President-elect Obama has also said is that he would seek the counsel of myself and the Joint Chiefs before he made any decisions. And, so I look forward to that discussion, look forward to the engagement."