Can Iraq Withstand Upcoming U.S. Troop Pullouts?

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," September 16, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HEATHER NAUERT, HOST: General Odierno takes over in Iraq and faces the challenge of making sure that Iraq's security gains don't unravel at a time when U.S. troop levels are being reduced.

Will Iraq be able to withstand our upcoming pullout?

Video: Watch Heather Nauert's interview

Here now to talk about this is FOX News military analyst and retired U.S. Army general, Bob Scales. Welcome here, tonight.

GEN. BOB SCALES, U.S. ARMY (RET): Hi, Heather.

NAUERT: OK. So one thing I want to know. As our troops start to shift more and more to Afghanistan and some of our guys start coming home from Iraq — where does that leave things in Iraq?

SCALES: Well, what it means is that the military in Iraq now has to expand their efforts. The job is nowhere near finished, Heather. The army has to continue to grow. It has to professionalize.

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The U.S. command has got to continue to hunt down al-Qaeda in Iraq and take them out, and most importantly, the U.S. military has to help the Iraqi military build its infrastructure, those things that the Iraqi military can't do yet, like logistics and intelligence and transportation and aviation and things like that.

And finally, the military has to help build infrastructure in Iraq, to help rebuild the communities, restore water, and all time types of facilities that have been destroyed over the last few years of war.

NAUERT: OK. So rely more and more on the Iraqis, but one way we were able to help get some stability there is by giving money to some of the Sunni tribes. So, what happens when the U.S. stops giving money to the Sunni tribes to get them on our side, essentially?

SCALES: Well, I don't think they're going to stop giving money to the Sunni tribes. Remember, in Iraq.

NAUERT: Well, eventually we have to stop, do we not?

SCALES: No, not at any time soon. Remember, Heather, in Iraq, money is a weapon, and the Sunnis have been sustained, if you will, in their counterinsurgency effort by payments from the U.S. command for, in many cases the excellent services that they've rendered in taking on the tough mission of local security in villages and towns outside of Baghdad.

NAUERT: OK. Now, let's look at Afghanistan just quickly.


NAUERT: How do you see that changing as we have more troops shift into Afghanistan — a tough battle, tougher fighters, in a sense, and a rugged terrain?

SCALES: Yes. Absolutely a tough battle, and, you know, in many ways, the Taliban is a very hardened, a tough enemy who's been at this for many, many years. Afghanistan is 1 1/2 times the size of Iraq, nowhere near the infrastructure, incredibly poor, very, very difficult terrain to fight in, and in some cases, fighting in mountains above 10,000 feet. This is not an easy conflict in Afghanistan. And it's the new central front, if you will, in this war against global terrorism.

NAUERT: That's for sure. We will have you back another time to talk some more about that since that is a whole another ball of wax.

Major General Bob Scales, thank you so much tonight.

SCALES: Thanks, Heather.

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