On Sunday he declared all troops were out of Iraq’s cities, but today top US commander in Iraq General Raymond Odierno conceded that “a small number” of US troops are still there, and “will remain in cities to train, advise, coordinate with Iraqi security forces, as well as enable them to move forward.”
When pressed to give a number, Gen. Odierno declined, declaring “I just don’t want to do it,” and insisting that the exact number would change from day to day depending on “how much coordination is required.”
The closest estimate Odierno would give was to say that it was “a significantly smaller number than what we had.” The troops didn’t move particularly far, and are presenting ringed around the city limits of Iraq’s major cities poised to re-enter at a moment’s notice.
At present the Pentagon says that roughly 131,000 US troops remain on the ground in Iraq, only 4,000 fewer than were in the nation three and a half months ago. The level of troops is still somewhat above pre-surge levels, and what passes for a pullout plan continues at an almost impossibly slow pace.