By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Aug. 21, 2012 – Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey arrived here today for talks with Iraqi and American leaders.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is meeting with Army Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, the chief of the Office of Security Cooperation Iraq, and his staff.
He then will travel on to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and defense chief Gen. Zebari Babakir. He expects to speak about U.S. security assistance to Iraq and ask for the Iraqis’ takes on the situation in Syria.
The chairman is the highest-ranking U.S. military official to visit Iraq since the end of the American mission here in December.
The office of security cooperation works with the Iraqi government on security assistance programs. The U.S. foreign military sales program alone covers $12.1 billion through this fiscal year. The program helps the Iraqis build capabilities and professionalize their forces.
Among the major purchases are 140 M1A1 tanks, 511 M-113 personnel carriers, 24 self-propelled howitzers and 120 towed howitzers.
The program also helps to build the Iraqi air force. Iraq has purchased 36 F-16 fighter aircraft, with the first aircraft scheduled for delivery in September 2014. The first contingent of Iraqi pilots and aircraft maintenance personnel already has arrived in the United States for training.
Iraq also purchased 15 T-6A trainer planes, six C-130J transports and 27 scout helicopters, and also is buying naval patrol craft and support vessels.