The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is "comfortable" with the new US-Iraq security pact scheduling the start of an American troop pullout next year, but believes some major hurdles still exist, the Washington Post reports. Admiral Michael Mullen cautioned that the US has huge amounts of equipment and thousands of troops within the country, and it will likely take up to three years to get everything out of the nation safely.
Mullen also emphasized—counter to the official Iraqi position—that US troop withdrawals should be tied to the security situation. The agreement calls for US troops to leave Iraqi cities by the middle of next year but Mullen believes it will be a big challenge to get Iraqi forces ready to take charge of Baghdad and Mosul in time. The admiral said he was looking forward to discussing the situation with the president-elect before Barack Obama makes any major decisions concerning Iraq.