Mullen: Troop Total in Iraq to Drop Sharply

By: Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press
By: Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press

Washington, D.C. (AP) - The number of American troops in Iraq will fall to 30,000 by the end of this month as the U.S. winds down the war, the top U.S military officer said Tuesday.

The reduction is about a one-third drop from the current number and would be the first big withdrawal this year.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disclosed the troop numbers but provided no details. He declined to elaborate on the ongoing negotiation between Iraq and the U.S. over leaving a small force there after year's end.

Mullen spoke at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

There are about 44,500 U.S. troops in Iraq. When the U.S. officially ended its combat mission in Iraq on Sept. 1, 2010, it had about 50,000 troops. Under a 2008 agreement, all U.S. troops are to be out of Iraq by the end of this year.

"This is the drawdown plan that Gen. Austin's had in place specifically, and it's really a plan that gets us to, under the current agreement, to (pulling) all the troops out by the end of December," Mullen said later during a news conference with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Gen. Lloyd Austin is the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

Talks are under way with Iraq to consider leaving at least a few thousand U.S. troops in the country to help train Iraqi forces. Mullen said it is a difficult process, and there still have been no final decisions on troop levels beyond Dec. 31.

Asked about plans for the U.S. Embassy to hire 8,000 private security contractors to protect American personnel and buildings in Iraq if the military leaves, Panetta said that the issue is part of the negotiations.

"One of the concerns we always have is the importance of providing adequate security, and I think that will be one of the issues that will be involved in these negotiations," he said.


AP National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.

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  • by Glenn Location: Tallahassee on Sep 23, 2011 at 06:41 AM
    Long overdue. Next time a Texan Republican cowboy president wants to start a war he should listen to their favorite president's wife: "JUST SAY NO".
  • by me Location: here on Sep 20, 2011 at 06:32 PM
    I say pull them out of Iraq...having said that, watch and see that our debt doesn't get any better....liberals are just looking for more money to spend.
    • reply
      by Gerry on Sep 21, 2011 at 04:04 AM in reply to me
      The debt will continue to grow until the federal budget is balanced. That's by definition of the terms involved. The debt will be higher at the end of 2012 than it is now, higher at the end of 2013 than at the end of 2012, and higher at the end of 2014 than at the end of 2013.
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