Army general: US should aid Iraqi defense

WASHINGTON (AP) ? The four-star general nominated to be the next Army chief is telling Congress that the U.S. should provide whatever defense assistance the Iraq believes it needs after this year.

Gen. Ray Odierno (oh-dee-EHR’-noh) didn’t offer his opinion on whether the U.S. should keep some troops in Iraq beyond this year, when the last U.S. troops are set to leave. But he said the U.S. should be prepared to respond to Iraqi defense needs, in part because of evidence that Iran is trying to increase its influence there.

Odierno was testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is considering his nomination to succeed Gen. Martin Dempsey as Army chief of staff in October. Odierno is a former top commander in Iraq and currently is commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command.