Soldiers attend a ceremony in 2007 to honor fallen service members at Kirkuk Regional Air Base in Iraq.
The withdrawal of American troops from Iraq is on track, said Pentagon officials Wednesday, though the Obama administration has yet to decide just how many troops will stay beyond the Dec. 31 departure deadline.
The official departure of American troops from Iraq began earlier in the week, when a 700-member unit returned to the States. The remaining 46,000 troops left in Iraq are expected to follow in the coming months. The Obama administration, however, is said to be considering a number of options that would leave several thousand troops behind for training and “possibly other missions,” The Associated Press reported. —BF
If the Iraqis decide they do not need a reinforced U.S. training contingent, then only about 150 U.S. military members would remain in Iraq next year as part of the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Security Cooperation. They would help train Iraqis on new military equipment like battle tanks.
James F. Jeffrey, the U.S. ambassador in Iraq, said Wednesday that a proposal to keep 3,000 troops in Iraq next year, as reported by some news organizations, has “no official status or credibility.” Jeffrey said that proposal has not been a part of ongoing discussions in Baghdad where both governments have been weighing whether up to 10,000 US forces should stay beyond Dec. 31.