Last US “combat brigade” leaves Iraq; private sector to pick up slack

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.

According to the Pentagon, 4,419 US troops have died in Iraq. (CNN, AHN, Aug. 19)

See our last post on Iraq and the politics of withdrawal.

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  1. Looks like those 50,000 “advisors” will have plenty to do…
    “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” launched coordinated suicide attacks Aug. 25 on police stations in Baghdad and al-Kut, and also targeted police in bombings in Karbala, Basrah, and Buhriz. More than 60 people were killed and over 250 wounded.

    The largest attack took place in the city of al-Kut in Wasit province south of Baghdad. A suicide bomber killed 30 and wounded 87 when he rammed his car packed with explosives into a police station.

    The second suicide attack occurred in Qahira district of Baghdad province, where a suicide bomber killed 15 people and wounded 56 more after detonating his car bomb at a police station. “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” also detonated car bombs outside police stations in Karbala and Basrah. In the Karbala attack, 29 people were wounded, and 12 were wounded in Basrah.

    In Buhriz in Diyala province, “al-Qaeda in Iraq” fighters attacked the homes of police officers, wounding five people. The attackers planted the flag of the “Islamic State of Iraq” over one of the officers’ home. A few weeks ago, “al-Qaeda in Iraq” planted its flag after attacking and killing policemen in Baghdad. (The Long War Journal, Aug. 25)

    See our last post on the insurgency/sectarian war.

  2. Insurgency or sectarian war?
    From ANH, Sept. 20:

    In what is considered the deadliest bombing of the month, two simultaneous bomb attacks rocked Iraq, killing 29 people and injuring more than 100 in Baghdad.

    The first car bomb blew near the Aden junction in north Baghdad, followed by another in the residential area of Mansur in west Baghdad. The blast in Mansur happened outside a mobile phone company office near restaurants and checkpoints, but it remained unclear what was the terrorists’ target.

    From VOA, Sept. 23:

    Iraqi officials say five people, including four children, were killed Thursday in attacks in Baghdad.

    Authorities say a bomb attached to a government worker’s car exploded, killing four children inside it and injuring the worker and his wife.

    OK, this may not indicate sectarian targets, but neither does it indicate a scrupulous concern for “collateral damage”…

  3. Insurgency or sectarian war?
    A series bombings and mortar strikes killed 76 people and wounded more than 200 in Shi’ite areas across Baghdad on Nov. 2. An attack on Baghdad’s Church of Our Lady of Najat (Sayidat al-Nejat) on Oct. 31 killed 48. Gunman seized hostages at the Syriac Catholic church and other churches in Baghdad; the hostages at Our Lady of Najat were killed when security services stormed the church. The “Islamic State Of Iraq” describes all Christians as “legitimate targets.” (Ekklesia, Today, Nov. 4; BBC News, Nov. 3; NYT, Nov. 1)