Since 2009 over 60,000 U.S. soldiers have been pulled out of Iraq. In January 2009 when Obama first took office, there were 142,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. After that, several thousand were withdrawn every couple months, going down to 140,000 in February, 137,000 in March, 134,000 in May, 130,000 in June, etc. According to the spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, there are currently 77,500 U.S. personnel in Iraq as of July 2010.
U.S. Troop Strength In Iraq 2003-2010
May 2003 150,000 – Invasion force
October 2007 171,000 – Height of Surge
January 2009 142,000 – Beginning Obama administration
February 2010 98,000
Pulling out the troops isn’t the hardest part of the process, it’s moving or transferring all the equipment. 1.1 million items have already been shipped out of Iraq, with 1.7 million in 405 bases still leftover. Anything that’s not considered essential can be turned over to the Iraqis. Each base can donate between $25-$30 million to the locals. So far 500,000 items have been given to Iraqis as a result. The rest can be sold to Iraqi businessmen, who then sell it to the public. Some Iraqis also claim that the Iraqi military illegally sells off some of the equipment to make money on the side.
U.S. soldiers tearing down a base
After September 1, the U.S. will only have seven brigades and special forces left in Iraq. The brigades will be called advise and assist units, and will focus upon training and supporting the Iraqis. One brigade will be in Baghdad, one will be in Anbar, and the other five will be split between northern and southern Iraq. Each will have between 3,000-5,000 troops, with the largest number along the disputed territories where the Americans are afraid a confrontation between the central government and Kurdistan could blow up. There will also be 4,500 special forces soldiers that will work on counter-terrorism operations.
By the end of 2011 all U.S. personnel are supposed to withdraw from Iraq. That process is already well underway. After that date, it’s likely that Baghdad will ask for some continued American support however, because it’s unlikely to have a military capable of defending the country from foreign threats. That means U.S. personnel will remain in the country for several more years, past the final drawdown period.
Fadel, Leila, “Vice President Biden in Iraq to visit troops, meet with officials,” Washington Post, 7/3/10
Garcia-Navarro, Lourdes, “At U.S. Bases In Iraq, The Fire Sale Is On,” All Things Considered, NPR, 6/8/10
Londono, Ernesto and Whitlock, Craig, “Despite political uncertainties in Iraq, U.S. sticking with drawdown plan,” Washington Post, 5/14/10
Sly, Liz, “Iraqis buying tons of U.S. military surplus items,” Los Angeles Times, 6/30/10