The US Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade crossed into Kuwait Aug. 19—supposedly the last “combat brigade” to leave Iraq. Their departure leaves about 56,000 US troops in the country. By the end of the month, only a “residual force” of some 50,000 US troops will remain. President Obama said that more than 90,000 US troops have left Iraq in the past 18 months. “And, consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all of our troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year,” he said.
But former US Ambassador Ryan Crocker told CNN the US still has plenty of work to do in Iraq. “We’re going to have to leave a large footprint behind, and this is not going away for us as an issue,” he said.
The State Department is preparing to assume many of the responsibilities currently shouldered by the military, increasing its security contractors from 2,700 to nearly 7,000, sources said. The State Department has asked the military to leave behind surveillance systems, about 50 bomb-resistant vehicles and a few dozen UH-60 helicopters, a military official said.
See our last post on Iraq and the politics of withdrawal.