Reports coming out of Fox News today have the Obama Administration poised to announce its post-December troop levels for Iraq and, in a move that will surprise virtually no one who was paying attention, that number is more than the “zero” mandated by the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).
Instead, the US will keep around 3,000 troops in Iraq, a major reduction from current levels and also much lower than the 27,000 troops the US generals currently in charge of the occupation sought. This is separate from any Defense Department contractors remaining in the country as well as the massive State Department “army” of 5,100 contractors planning to remain.
“There is almost no room for security operations at that number; it will be almost purely a training mission,” one official claimed, adding that some troops would continue to carry out “counter-terrorism” operations.
Spinning the continued US presence as a (mostly) training mission should please Prime Minister Maliki, who has repeatedly insisted he doesn’t need parliamentary approval to keep US trainers in the nation. Parliament was deeply divided over the prospect of a continued occupation, and such a vote was expected to be difficult.