EXCLUSIVE: Adm. Fallon Says 'We're Seeing a Sniff of Progress' in Iraq


ABC's Martha Raddatz has been on the road in Iraq with Adm. William Fallon, the new head of Central Command, responsible for U.S. forces in Iraq and the Middle East, as he tours the region to assess progress for the current troop surge. The following is a partial transcript of their exclusive conversation:

Martha Raddatz: One of the things I've noticed in the past couple of days traveling with you and listening to you is a real sense of urgency. Why is that?

Fallon: Well, as I've said many times in the last couple of months, time is of the essence for a lot of reasons. We've been at this a long time. We have a new approach that's in play. We have not been able to move the situation here to the place we thought we were going to be able to a couple of years ago.

We have casualty rates that are very high. We have an Iraqi government that's at a critical juncture in its young life. We have an American people that have been very, very supportive and resilient and steadfast, but I sense that they'd like something to happen. There's frustration, there's very clear frustration with Capitol Hill, although I haven't been following the detail as to what's going in the past week because I've been too busy out here. But there's lot of anxiety and lots of frustration, and so we're in the midst of teeing up this new approach. We got a surge in forces but more importantly, the way they're being used is very different.

We have new leadership, new military leaders. We have a new ambassador coming in tomorrow and frankly, we've just got to move this thing very quickly.

I can't imagine that we're going to enjoy the luxury of being able to drag this thing out so I'd like to pull every lever we can to make real progress, and we're seeing a sniff of progress right now in the last several weeks, but we need to really move it because I think we're not going to get another opportunity.

This is, we're going to give it our best shot. We've got a lot of things lined up right now to make us successful, and I think we're going to be unlikely to have this opportunity again. We've got to take it, make the best of it and be successful, but I think we can do that.

Raddatz: Why no other opportunity, this is it, this is our last chance?

Fallon: Well, we've been at this a very long time and I think you can read the tea leaves here for a host of reasons. I just don't believe we're going to have an opportunity given the debate in Congress.

It's going to be very difficult to be able to come back and say, "we got this wrong and we need another chance," we've got to get it right or decide that we're not going to get it right and that's what I intend to do is make the best assessment that I can sometime down the road here, not very long in the future and we'll see if we're doing as we think we're going to be able to do. But if we're not, we're going to say that's the way it is and then we'll have to come up with a different plan.

Raddatz: I think not only do you have a new plan, your approach seemed very different to me. It was results, results, results.

Fallon: Well, we have a lot of actions, we have a lot of activities, we have not gotten the results that we wanted. We're going to get them this time or we're going to end up in a different league, in a different ballgame.

Raddatz: How do you get results?

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