Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend dashed hopes that the impending collapse of the Islamic State group might mean the end of U.S. military involvement in Iraq, when he said on Tuesday that the United States is “interested” in maintaining a US military presence in Iraq after the eventual defeat of the Islamic State group.
“I would anticipate that there will be a coalition presence here after the defeat of the Islamic State group,” the general said on Tuesday. “This fight is far from over… there’s still hard work to be done.”
He said decisions over post Islamic State group plans for a U.S. presence in the country are in a “final decision-making” stage.
He claimed that US coalition forces were needed to prevent a “replay” of 2011 when U.S. forces began to withdraw from Iraq following a decade of bloody, devastating invasion and occupation. With Iraq left in a destabilized condition, the Islamic State group quickly rose up as a regional power.