Odierno: I do give my advice on Afghanistan, just quietly

Gen. Ray Odierno gives his advice on the course of the Afghanistan war “quite regularly” to Gen. John Allen and the chain of command, he said on Friday.   So, what does he think about the war? He’s not telling.   Few Americans know more about commanding a counterinsurgency in the Middle East against an ...

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Gen. Ray Odierno gives his advice on the course of the Afghanistan war “quite regularly” to Gen. John Allen and the chain of command, he said on Friday.
 
So, what does he think about the war? He’s not telling.
 
Few Americans know more about commanding a counterinsurgency in the Middle East against an extremist Islam-fueled enemy than Odierno, Army chief of staff.  But trying asking him about Afghanistan, and the former commanding general of the Iraq war will tell you it’s not his place to go there.
 
On Friday, the E-Ring asked Odierno why.
 
“I keep my comments internal for several reasons,” he said, at the Military Reporters and Editors conference, on Friday in Washington. “I provide my comments privately back, internal, to the organization. Why? Because I know what it feels like to be a commander in Iraq, and I understand that it doesn’t help if the chief of staff of the Army is back here making comments about Afghanistan.”
 
Odierno recently visited Afghanistan, he said, and keeps in close contact with Allen.
 
“Gen. Allen and I are very close, we served together several times in Iraq together. And so I’m here to assist them … in a way to make sure the Army is prepared, and I focus my time on making sure we’re is prepared.”
 
“I don’t think it’s my place right now to be talking about policy and development of what that course of action, or, in Afghanistan. That’s Gen. Allen’s job, that’s [Central Command's] Gen. [James] Mattis’ job, that’s the chairman’s job,” he said, speaking of Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey.
 
“Do I give them advice? I do, and I give it to them quite regularly and I’m not afraid to tell them what I think. But I don’t feel like right now it’s my position to be out publicly talking about it.”
 

Gen. Ray Odierno gives his advice on the course of the Afghanistan war “quite regularly” to Gen. John Allen and the chain of command, he said on Friday.
 
So, what does he think about the war? He’s not telling.
 
Few Americans know more about commanding a counterinsurgency in the Middle East against an extremist Islam-fueled enemy than Odierno, Army chief of staff.  But trying asking him about Afghanistan, and the former commanding general of the Iraq war will tell you it’s not his place to go there.
 
On Friday, the E-Ring asked Odierno why.
 
“I keep my comments internal for several reasons,” he said, at the Military Reporters and Editors conference, on Friday in Washington. “I provide my comments privately back, internal, to the organization. Why? Because I know what it feels like to be a commander in Iraq, and I understand that it doesn’t help if the chief of staff of the Army is back here making comments about Afghanistan.”
 
Odierno recently visited Afghanistan, he said, and keeps in close contact with Allen.
 
“Gen. Allen and I are very close, we served together several times in Iraq together. And so I’m here to assist them … in a way to make sure the Army is prepared, and I focus my time on making sure we’re is prepared.”
 
“I don’t think it’s my place right now to be talking about policy and development of what that course of action, or, in Afghanistan. That’s Gen. Allen’s job, that’s [Central Command’s] Gen. [James] Mattis’ job, that’s the chairman’s job,” he said, speaking of Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey.
 
“Do I give them advice? I do, and I give it to them quite regularly and I’m not afraid to tell them what I think. But I don’t feel like right now it’s my position to be out publicly talking about it.”
 

Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge. Twitter: @FPBaron

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