Thursday, July 8, 2010

U.S. Forces Drawing Down In Iraq

U.S. forces are scheduled to draw down to 50,000 by September 1, 2010 following President Obama’s withdrawal plan. It’s hardly been noticed, but U.S. troops are almost at that level already.

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 After that, several thousand were withdrawn every couple months, going down to 140,000 in February, 137,000 in March, 134,000 in May, 130,000 in June, etc.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 140,000
March 137,000
May 134,000
June 130,000
September 124,000
October 117,000
November 115,000
December 110,000
February 2010 98,000
April 95,000
May 92,000
June 90,000
July 77,500

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


Maury said...

405 bases at 30 billion per base would be a little over 12 trillion dollars. Iraq would have a GDP almost as large as the US. If only it were that easy.

Joel Wing said...

typo should've been million not billion!

AndrewSshi said...

I'm kind of wondering how the Iraqi Army is doing with respect to things like logistics. Last I've read, lots of units are still pretty sub par in that regard. Although with all the U.S. supplies that are going to be given to the Iraqi Army, maybe they'll have enough equipment at least to muddle through.

Now all we need are for Iraq to take delivery of its M1A1s and, much later in this decade, its F-16s and then we will finally, finally be done with this nonsense that began in 1990.

By the time Iraq has an air force, this nonsense will have been going on for almost thirty effin' years. The mind boggles.

Joel Wing said...

Andrew its funny that you mentioned the Abrams and the Iraqi maintenance system because I have an article tomorrow that'll cover both. The first contingent of tanks are set to arrive by Aug. and the last I heard the Iraqis have no interest in their own logistics. They rely upon the Americans for nearly everything and cannibalize their own vehicles to keep others running. Which begs the question how are they going to maintain those Abrams? Foreign contractors for years and years IF the Defense Ministry has the money for them.

AndrewSshi said...

I'd be really interested in seeing an article on Iraqi Army logistics or lack thereof. (Sadly, since Anand quit writing for Long War Journal there's not a lot of pre-digested information in that respect that's readily accessible). I suspect that the Iraqis are going to have lots of hand-me-downs from the U.S. military (as you and others have noted) and some contractors as well.

S. Training said...

Iran is being 2 faced by supporting regime change in their 2 neighboring countries, but whenever the same is suggested in Iran they respond with militant outrage. UAE wants to be defended against Iran to the last American. If the Arab nations are so worried about Iran, let their own armies do something about it.

Joel Wing said...

Andrew I haven't seen anything on Iraqi logistics since 2009. Here are two articles I wrote then based upon audits by the Special Inspector General. They paint a pretty bleak picture of neglect and lack of interest by the Iraqis in the sustainability of their own forces.

Adam Szymkowicz said...

How many in Afghanistan?

Joel Wing said...

Adam there are 94,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan as of June 2010. There are also 40,070 from other countries.

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