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Lute Warned Against "Dependency Syndrome"
Previous Comments Offer Hints to Kind of Counsel War Czar Will Offer President
05/16/2007 4:17 PM ET

Yesterday's appointment of President Bush's war czar has caused intense speculation as to what kind of perspective Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute might offer the White House.

In January 2006, Lute--then director of operations at Centcom--sat for a lengthy interview with Charlie Rose that may offer a valuable glimpse into his thinking.

Though Lute remained on message for most of the conversation, his comments on the operational reasons to withdraw troops from Iraq indicate that he does not entirely agree with the prevailing notion that Iraqi forces must be in a position to independently maintain security before the US withdraws.

In addition to explaining that a reduction in force structure would undercut insurgent propaganda, Lute warns against "dependency syndrome," explaining that the Iraqis would be content to stand by and watch if the Americans continued providing for their security needs.

Lute: Whatever the political arguments, Charlie, there are at least two good operational reasons that we would like to see a smaller, lighter, less prominent US force structure in Iraq. One is this perception of occupation that a large American force brings with it.

Today there are about 140,000 American troops on the ground in Iraq, we would like to bring that down and undercut the enemy propaganda that in fact we have designs on Iraqi resources, or Iraqi bases, and so forth, and that in fact we're really just masquerading as an occupation force. So we want to undercut that perception.

The other thing, though, Charlie, is that we have learned in post-conflict scenarios--like Iraq, but elsewhere, the Balkans and so forth--that if you're not careful to avoid what we call the dependency syndrome, that American soldiers will do it all. They'll do all that they can and then some--this is the sort of person we recruit into the armed forces today. And as they do it, those who we really want to do it--the Iraqi security forces--will be content to stand by and watch.

Rose: As you know, some people make that very argument--that it's only as the American forces begin to withdraw that the Iraqis will do more.

Lute: And we recognize that as one of the operational dimensions towards a smaller, more agile, less prominent force structure in Iraq. But notice that I didn't say we're under some sort of political stress or design to bring down the force structure. Our perspective is the operational and military dimension.

Part one of Charlie Rose's conversation with Maj. Gen. Douglas Lute, then director of operations at Centcom.

Original Airdate 01/20/2006

Part two of Charlie Rose's conversation with Maj. Gen. Douglas Lute, then director of operations at Centcom.

Original Airdate 01/20/2006


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