Defense Secretary Gates Visits Idaho Soldiers in Baghdad

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Idaho soldiers stationed at Camp Liberty, Iraq, got some face time Thursday with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Gates adressed military readiness, political stability in Iraq, and women in combat in a question-and-answer session with citizen soldiers. More than 1,500 members of the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team are deployed in Iraq as part of what is being called Operation New Dawn. Their tour is expected to end this fall.

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  • US Army Photo

"I don't see any repercussions from Libya coming here," said Gates, referring to Iraq. "In terms of the broader disputes and turmoil going on around the region, in a way, it's a measure of what the Iraqi (Security Forces) have already achieved. Iraq is already where a lot of these other counties want to be."

Gates also touched on possible changes to Army policy, such as opening combat arms positions to women.

"Frankly, the policy hasn't caught up with the reality in some respects," said Gates. "I'm confident that this is an area that is going to change. The timescale of the change, I have no idea."

Gates said he expected this to be his last official visit to Iraq.

"I don't know how many trips I've made to Iraq, maybe 14," said Gates. "I just wanted to tell you that working with you all has been the greatest privilege and greatest honor of my life."

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