Touting the decline in violence in Iraq, the United States has announced it will be cutting the level of troops in the nation this month by one combat brigade, or roughly 3,500 soldiers. They had initially planned to rotate one brigade out this month, but now they will be rotating a second brigade, initially slated to return in February of next year, and only replacing one of them.
This will reduce the force from its current level of around 152,000 troops to just under 149,000 troops. This is a fair amount less than the surge peak of around 168,000 troops, but well over the 130,000 troops stationed in Iraq when the surge was announced.
It should also be noted that when President Bush initially accepted the recommendation not to reduce the troop level in Iraq in early September, there were 146,000 troops in Iraq. This troop “cut,” therefore, will not only leave troop levels at the end of the year well above pre-surge levels, but will actually end with more troops in the nation than there were when the “freeze” was announced.