In Mid-February, the Pentagon announced that there were around 98,000 troops in Iraq and that they remained “on track” for the August drawdown to 50,000 troops. Today, over two months later, the top commander in Iraq reiterated his confidence about this pledge.
Gen. Odierno’s public optimism about the Iraq drawdown has not changed, but the violence in the nation has, rising dramatically over the past two months as the disputed March 7 election gives way to factional infighting.
With just four months left to make good on this promise, the prospect that they will actually get it done seems more remote than ever, and with around 95,000 troops left, the troop levels don’t seem to be in line with the pledges.
Gen. Odierno sought to downplay the rising violence, insisting that Iraqis had “rejected al-Qaeda.” He also insisted there was no plan to keep troops in the nation past 2011, but said if the Iraqi government wanted them “then we’ll see.“