BAGHDAD - General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the only way Iraq will succeed long term is if its leaders could bridge the sectarian divide, something they failed to do after the 2011 US withdrawal.
"I'm not surprised I'm back, to be honest with you," he told Reuters. Dempsey said Iraq's new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, had taken some positive steps and that Iraq's new leaders appeared "much more thoughtful about what it might take to actually settle things down."
"I want them [US troops] to understand that this is not like it was," Dempsey said in an interview. "This is not about us being in the lead in any sense. This is about us expecting that Iraq recognizes the threat it faces and is looking to us to help them, advise them."
Asked by a soldier whether he considered Iraq a combat deployment, Dempsey sidestepped political sensitivities, saying US troops were deployed in a "combat advisory role."