Coalition Troops Continue Drawdown in Iraq
Dispatches from the Front:
BAGHDAD, Dec. 22, 2008 -- In September 2008, the President of the United States announced an American military force drawdown in Iraq. The drawdown is a return on success, which follows the departure of the five “surge” brigades, the Marine Expeditionary Unit, two Marine Corps battalions, and majority of the Coalition nations.
The dramatic improvements in security made possible by the surge of U.S. forces, and the substantial development of Iraq Security Forces, permitted the drawdown of Coalition forces operating in Iraq. These reductions have been made possible because security conditions on the ground improved, the ISF grew in capacity and capability, and the partnership between the Government of Iraq and the Coalition continues to improve.
With the passing and ratification of the Strategic Framework Agreement and the Security Agreement, Iraq emerges from the United Nations Security Council oversight and takes a place within the international community. This agreement respects the sovereignty of both nations and establishes a legal framework for a continued partnership.
Because of the improved security and progress at the political and legislative levels, Coalition forces have begun and will continue to drawdown. During the past several months, Coalition forces have conducted many end of mission ceremonies.
As of September 2008, there were 25 countries contributing to the Coalition force effort in Iraq. In October, five Coalition force partners concluded their missions in Iraq. In November, three more countries followed suit, with 11 additional countries departing in December; totaling 19 Coalition force partners finalizing their missions here in Iraq.
The composition of the Coalition has changed significantly and has been based on decisions made by the GoI and Coalition members. Overall, Coalition force personnel have declined from 169,000 personnel to 148,000 personnel to date.
“As we bid farewell to long-time Coalition partners, we recognize that their departure represents a great success, which has been achieved here in Iraq; success that could not have been achieved without their support,” said Maj. Gen. David Perkins, Multi-National Force – Iraq spokesman. “The departing forces have fulfilled expectations by being dedicated trainers, mentors, partners and friends to the Iraqi people. They have proven to be some of the finest military personnel we’ve had the privilege of working with here in Iraq.”
(Report from a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)
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