The US military announced today that 12,000 troops, less than 10 percent of the overall US presence on the ground, will be leaving Iraq in the next 6 months. The announcement that the long-promised pullout will continue at a snail’s pace was further marred, however, by coming on one of the deadliest days in recent memory for Iraq.
The pullout will bring troops down from the 135,000 there presently to pre-surge levels, but the military insists that most of the troops will remain until the Iraqi parliamentary elections, due to be held late in the year.
Assuming the drawdown occurs as scheduled, the US will have 123,000 troops in Iraq in September of this year, and less than a year to pare another 73,000 from their numbers to fulfill Obama’s latest promise to have 50,000 in the nation by August 31, 2010, when he will declare combat over. Considering the nation has only managed to pull some 11,000 troops out in the last 6 months and expects similar numbers in the next six months, the president’s so-called pullout is increasingly looking like a best-case scenario.