Iraqi Army forces may be able to take over the more volatile regions of their country by the end of this year, as long as they have the equipment and logistical support they need, the top US military commander said Monday.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that by year's end the Iraqi army will have recruited all of the units it needs, and the US will have trained "a vast majority of their Army."
"Right now the Iraqis have (control) over half of Baghdad, and Baghdad is a pretty tough neighborhood, so they're certainly capable, regardless of the area, of being in control," Pace said in an interview on a military aircraft en route to Pakistan. "It will be just a matter of time to see what makes sense."
Late last week Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the second-ranking US commander in Iraq, said the goal is to have Iraqi security forces in control of 75 percent of the country's territory by the end of the summer.
Asked if that territory included the Anbar region and the Sunni Triangle, where much of the recent sectarian violence has been centered, Pace said that is a possibility.
He said the training of the Iraqi forces is going well, and "they will have sufficient numbers of troops to do that and then, like anything, for both coalition forces and Iraqi forces it will depend on how much of the anti-Iraqi activity is going on in any particular area."