"Should the Iraqi government desire to discuss the potential for some US troops to stay, I am certain my government will welcome that dialogue," he said at a late April news conference in Baghdad. He warned, however, that that request had to be made within the next few weeks.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said on May 11 that he was open to an extended US stay if there was enough backing from Iraqis, but was vague about how much support he would require – and from whom. He has insisted that Iraqi forces can take care of their internal security – "our agencies and our forces have become competent and capable of controlling the security situation," he said last month – but acknowledged that Iraq needs help meeting outside threats.
"We've not had the ability to really focus in earnest on providing for an external defensive capability. So the Iraqis still need to work on that," Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of United States Forces – Iraq (USF-I), told reporters recently. He said Iraqis also still lacked the ability to defend their skies and needed to develop their intelligence capability and logistics.
In addition to advanced training required on US tanks and artillery they've purchased, they also need training on how to use them together. "It's pretty complex – they're likely to have continued needs well into the future," says Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, spokesman for USF-I.