By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
July 23, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki discussed Iraq security issues when the two met at the Pentagon late this afternoon. Gates and Maliki addressed the U.S.-Iraqi security relationship and equipment needs for Iraqi soldiers and police, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.
Their conversation, Morrell said, focused "largely on our security partnership, on ways that we can continue to help the Iraqi security forces grow in size and capability, so that they are able to fully exert their sovereignty and protect the people from external and internal threats."
Gates acknowledged during today's meeting with Maliki that the current processes employed to provide equipment to Iraqi military and police are too slow and need to be streamlined, Morrell said.
Therefore, he continued, Gates is "working on creative ways" to provide Iraqi security forces -- and other allies – the equipment that they need as quickly as possible.
"Speed and flexibility are what our system needs and doesn't have to the degree that we would like," Morrell said.
Gates and Maliki also discussed the "tremendous progress" that's been made in Iraq over the past few years, he said.
President Barack Obama and Maliki discussed the June 30 transfer of security leadership to Iraqi authorities at a news conference held yesterday at the White House. American military forces withdrew from Iraqi cities and towns as part of the agreement.
"This transition was part of our security agreement and should send an unmistakable signal that we will keep our commitments with the sovereign Iraqi government," Obama said at yesterday's news conference.