The Cable

Odierno addresses alleged rift with Hill

America’s top commander in Iraq responded today to Tom Ricks’s report that his relationship with Amb. Chris Hill is "rapidly deteriorating," which Hill denied to The Cable yesterday. Here’s what Gen. Ray Odierno told the House Armed Services Committee in response to a question from Rep. Joe Courtney, D-CT: (via Spencer Ackerman): "First, I interact ...

America’s top commander in Iraq responded today to Tom Ricks’s report that his relationship with Amb. Chris Hill is "rapidly deteriorating," which Hill denied to The Cable yesterday.

Here’s what Gen. Ray Odierno told the House Armed Services Committee in response to a question from Rep. Joe Courtney, D-CT: (via Spencer Ackerman):

"First, I interact every single day with – We probably meet personally three or four times a week. I have an office in the embassy that I man. But I also have about 300 people within MNF-I [Multinational Forces-Iraq] that are actually in the Embassy that are in support of economic, police, training, and other agencies, planning that are there every single day working with the Embassy, so we’re completely integrated at every level, we continue to be completely integrated. We’re updating this Joint Campaign Plan, which is- it’s a joint plan between Amb. Hill and myself. We are working this very hard, very closely together. It’s very important because it really is going to set what the deliverables are as we transition to civilian capacity-building once the military completes the capacity building.

"And the way I put it to all my people is: in 2003, we had a chance to do this, we didn’t do it quite right. We have a chance to do this now, and we have to make sure we’ve got the planning and the deliverables necessary to make sure this works as we reduce our presence. And we’re hand-in-hand doing a joint process with the embassy and I feel very comfortable with this.

"So I believe we have a real good system in place. Every meeting that I hold, we have a member of the Embassy at the meeting. So, I mean, I think our relationship is good. Amb. Hill and I work very closely together on a daily basis. As I tell him, the only thing Amb. Hill and I disagree on is that he’s a Red Sox fan and I’m a Yankee fan. So besides that we do pretty well."

Was that a denial of the alleged rift between the two leaders? Did he address the substantive policy issues that separate them? You be the judge.

 Twitter: @joshrogin
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