Monday, March 9, 2009

US Military Leaders Begin Troop Withdrawal in Iraq

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, March 9, 2009 -- Military leaders in Iraq have begun working toward achieving President Barack Obama’s goal of a complete troop withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2010, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman said during a briefing from Iraq yesterday.

“Between now and September … we’ll be reducing by two brigade combat teams here on the ground in Iraq,” Army Maj. Gen. David Perkins, the command’s director for strategic effects, said. “We’ll also be reducing the number of various enablers.”

Enablers are the units that make it possible for the brigade combat teams to carry out their missions, such as military police, and engineer, logistic and transportation units.

An Air Force F-16 squadron also won’t be replaced, Perkins said.

Additionally, “The British brigade down south will return back to the [United Kingdom] and not be replaced,” Perkins said. “What this gives you is the total of about 12,000 U.S. forces reduction, and 4,000 British forces reduced as far as total end strength.”

The changes will not compromise security, though, the general said. Assets will be repositioned throughout Iraq in coordination with the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces based on the threat level at various locations.

This is the model previously followed, he said. Between the height of the troop surge and now, forces have been reduced by more than 20 percent, he said.

By the end of March, nearly 74 facilities, operating bases and areas that the United States has been occupying will be turned over to the Iraqi government. To date, 30 have been turned over since January.

“All of this is made possible because of the dramatic reduction in attacks and the increase in the overall security here in Iraq,” Perkins noted.

(Report by Samantha L. Quigley, American Forces Press Service.)

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