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Summary: Presentation of the George P. Shultz Award for Distinguished Service

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PRESENTATION OF THE GEORGE P. SHULTZ AWARD FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE

AWRD FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE

Speakers:

  • Clifford D. May, Founder & President, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
  • Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army Chief of Staff
  • Catherine Herridge, Chief Intelligence Correspondent, Fox News Channel

 FDD presented its George P. Shultz Award for Distinguished Service to General (ret.) Ray Odierno, who served as 38th Chief of Staff of the United States Army. Gen. Odierno spent more time in Iraq than any other U.S. Army general, his last two years as the commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq.

Introducing the recipient, FDD President Cliff May praised Gen. Odierno for his service in Iraq where he, along with General David Petraeus, built and implemented the surge. “Together, and against the odds and the predictions of many pundits and politicians, they took a war that was on the verge of defeat and turned it around.”

Gen. Odierno was interviewed by Catherine Herridge. In his remarks, Gen. Odierno acknowledged that the U.S. Army has lost capabilities in recent years, and that some of the cutbacks went too deep. The United States faces a bigger challenge today than during the Cold War, when it knew who its enemy was and what capabilities were needed to defeat it. He said he worries the U.S. military now lacks the necessary capabilities to confront these dangers and proposed expanding the defense budget.

On Iraq, Gen. Odierno estimated that 50,000 troops of a U.S.-led coalition could defeat ISIS, but cautioned about what would happen the day after. He noted that in 2010-11, Iraq was peaceful and growing economically, but the United States withdrew its forces without a sustainable plan to enable its political system to work after it left. Looking forward, Gen. Odierno expressed skepticism about Iraq’s ability to remain united, which he attributed to Iran’s influence in the country. He argued that Iran would never allow the Sunnis to participate in a meaningful way in the Iraqi government.

Gen. Odierno stressed the importance of rebuilding relationships with other countries in the region following the nuclear deal with Iran. To do so, he argued that U.S. partners need to see that the United States is serious about stemming Iran’s influence in the region in addition to its nuclear program.

Gen. Odierno said it was worth looking into the prospect of Russia being an ally in the Middle East, but noted that the United States has different objectives and that it would be difficult at the present time. He said he regretted the lost opportunity to work with Russia following the terrorist attacks in Paris and the downing of the Russian airliner last fall.

As advice to the next administration, Gen. Odierno emphasized the importance of strengthening U.S. relationships abroad, warning of “isolationist tendencies” in U.S. politics. He noted that all U.S. partners want the United States to lead, and that it is important to understand this.