The likely next Pentagon chief says he believes Iraq will ask the U.S. to maintain a presence in that country beyond the end of this year, when American troops are currently scheduled to leave.
Leon Panetta is telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that it is up to Iraqi leaders to lay out what support they need, and for how long, in order to make sure security gains there are not lost.
He says he has every confidence that a request will be forthcoming.
Panetta repeated assertions that there are still about 1,000 al-Qaida insurgents in Iraq. He says keeping some troops in Iraq to support security forces there is a good idea.
Panetta is currently CIA director and has been nominated for defense chief.