U.S. Troops on Target to Leave Iraq This Year

WASHINGTON, July 6, 2011 — The Unit­ed States intends to abide by its com­mit­ments in the 2008 U.S.-Iraq Secu­ri­ty Agree­ment, includ­ing the oblig­a­tion to com­plete the draw­down of U.S. forces there by the end of the year, Pen­ta­gon spokesman Marine Col. Dave Lapan said today.
Any news sto­ry that gives a num­ber of U.S. troops remain­ing in Iraq after Dec. 31 is wrong, Lapan said.

“The process for troops to remain in the coun­try after that date begins with an offi­cial request from the Iraqi gov­ern­ment, and no such request has been made,” he said. “Until the gov­ern­ment of Iraq makes a request, there is no num­ber.”

Unless the Iraqi gov­ern­ment makes such a request, there are no plans for a U.S. mil­i­tary pres­ence there after this year, oth­er than those DOD per­son­nel assigned to the Office of Secu­ri­ty Coop­er­a­tion-Iraq.

Indi­vid­ual ser­vice mem­bers will be part of the U.S. embassy staff, as they are in most Amer­i­can embassies around the world and under author­i­ty of the Chief of Mis­sion in Bagh­dad, Lapan said.

There are some 46,000 U.S. ser­vice mem­bers in Iraq today.

Amer­i­can offi­cials have said the Unit­ed States would be will­ing to have some troops remain in coun­try for a lim­it­ed time, if Iraq asks. Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces, while increas­ing­ly capa­ble, will have gaps in the defens­es. The Iraqi air force, for exam­ple, is not pre­pared to defend the coun­try against exter­nal threats, offi­cials have said, and the Iraqi army and police still have short­com­ings in intel­li­gence fusion, sus­tain­ment and logis­tics. These are all areas DOD can pro­vide sup­port, Lapan said.

But it begins with an Iraqi request for Amer­i­can forces to remain past the dead­line. If the Iraqi gov­ern­ment makes the request, then offi­cials of both coun­tries will nego­ti­ate the num­ber and sta­tus of the troops. Put anoth­er way, “the admin­is­tra­tion has made it clear that if the Iraqis make a request for us to main­tain some pres­ence, then we will con­sid­er that request,” Lapan said.

U.S. offi­cials have made it clear that the Iraqis need to decide about Amer­i­can mil­i­tary assis­tance soon. “The longer they wait to make a deci­sion, it has an impact as to what we’re able to do, once we start with­draw­ing forces,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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