It seems the two top American leaders in Iraq believe there is a timetable of sorts in Iraq despite protestations otherwise by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Army Gen. George Casey Jr. said in a joint press briefing on Oct. 23 that success in Iraq was still possible and on a “realistic timetable.” The key element of that timetable is the assumption of the country’s security by Iraqi security forces, which Casey believes will happen within 12 to 18 months. Khalilzad said, “Iraqi leaders have committed themselves to a timeline, … and we will work with them as closely as possible [so] that they do meet those benchmarks.” That same day, Rumsfeld denied a firm timetable during a Pentagon press availability. Rumsfeld said Khalilzad and Casey were “having a discussion” about how they see the way ahead over the rest of this year and next year and what kinds of projections they might have.” Hmmm.
Rumored cuts to the F-35 from the fiscal 2025 defense budget—six from Air Force plans—would not be offset by recent Foreign Military Sales, and will disrupt ongoing Lot 19 negotiations, Pentagon and industry sources said.