Military.com recently reported that General Ray Odierno, top U.S. commander in Iraq, intends to stick to the pre-set pull-out time-table, despite the recent escalation of violence there. In Bagdad Monday, he said he remains "absolutely committed" to pulling back all combat troops from urban areas by the end of the month, as provided for in a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, although he did admit a limited number of advisers and trainers will remain in the cities to work with Iraqi security forces.
"We will not get into any specific numbers, but it is very small," Odierno told a joint news conference with key Iraqi officials. Odierno said the pull back of combat troops would also extend to the northern city of Mosul, where Sunni insurgents still pose a threat. Earlier in the year, the General said violence and tensions in Mosul have declined. "I feel much more comfortable with the situation in there now."
Under the Iraqi-U.S. security pact, American combat troops have to withdraw by June 30 with all U.S. forces out of the country at the end of 2011. President Barack Obama has said all combat troops will leave Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010, leaving up to 50,000 troops in training and advising roles.
Photo of General Odierno walking the streets of Iraq with our soldiers
Many Iraqis are happy to see foreign soldiers off their streets but have doubts about the ability of their own security force. During the press conference, Odierno also said the number of foreign fighters coming into Iraq has dropped recently to "just a trickle." He credited the decline to better security along Iraq's borders and efforts by Iraq's neighbors, including Syria, to curb illegal traffic. It’s good to see the President is keeping this important promise! Now, if only he would decide to exit the nightmare in Afghanistan, where civilians continue to be accidentally bombed by our forces!