Report: Obama may reduce U.S. troop levels in Iraq to just 3,000 by year’s end

posted at 8:10 pm on September 6, 2011 by Allahpundit

It started as a Fox News scoop but now HuffPo’s hearing the same thing. For the second time in three months, O may be ready to order a drawdown that’s steeper than the Pentagon’s comfortable with. And I’ll bet this one’s even more popular with the public than that one was.

Senior commanders are said to be livid at the decision, which has already been signed off by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta…

“We can’t secure everybody with only 3,000 on the ground nor can we do what we need to with the Iraqis,” one source said.

A senior military official said by reducing the number of troops to 3,000, the White House has effectively reduced the mission to training only.

“There is almost no room for security operations in that number; it will be almost purely a training mission,” this official said. The official added that a very small number of troops within that 3,000 will be dedicated to counter-terrorism efforts, but that’s not nearly what Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, wanted.

Supposedly the Pentagon wanted 27,000 troops there at year’s end, but when the White House pushed back, they agreed that they could make do — with extreme effort — with 10,000. Now, somehow, we’re at 3,000, although HuffPo notes that the number could be as high as 5,000 at times depending upon troop rotations. Important question to which we don’t have an answer yet: Is it Obama who’s pushing this new number, as some sort of election message about having brought all (or almost all) the troops home? Or is it the Iraqi government?

U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the discussions, said they are finalizing several options. But they said key leaders, including President Barack Obama, have not yet made a decision because it still hinges on what Baghdad ultimately requests. Officials said they want to have the options ready by mid-month…

The White House has offered to keep as many as 8,500 or 10,000 troops in Iraq. The number could also be smaller, and the options under review would keep varying numbers of troops in the country depending on what types of assistance the Iraqis say they need…

The decision is politically explosive in Iraq, where continued presence of U.S. troops would likely raise tensions and spur more violence.

Panetta’s been negotiating with the Iraqis for months about whether U.S. troops will stay after the security agreement ends later this year. He said a few weeks ago that they were making progress, but “progress” in which direction? In theory, the harder Iraq is hit by terror attacks — and last month was especially bad, culminating in a suicide bombing at Baghdad’s biggest Sunni mosque — the more Maliki et al. should want a larger U.S. troop presence to continue to help with security. But the more U.S. troops there are, the less room there is for Iran and local Iraqi warlords to act as guarantors of Shiite security instead. Which of course is why Muqtada al-Sadr is threatening a new military campaign if any American boots remain on the ground next year. The internal calculus in the Iraqi government is, I take it, all about figuring out how many/few U.S. troops they can request without igniting new insanity among the various insane constituencies, internal and external, that they have to deal with. If 3,000 is in fact the number, evidently they’ve settled on “token force incapable of doing anything useful” as optimal.

Needless to say, Obama has all the latitude on this decision that he could ever want. I think the public’s almost completely given up on following Iraq, especially with Afghanistan and Libya looming larger this year in U.S. foreign-policy calculations, and to the extent that there are still sectarian troubles there, there’s nothing the average voter will think we can do about it after eight years. The broader strategic consideration is what happens if (a) the Iranian nuke kabuki finally comes to a head between Iran and the west and/or (b) Iran’s pal Assad is toppled in Syria by the Sunni majority, leaving a power hostile to Tehran right on Iraq’s doorstep. Either of those scenarios could lead Iran to increase its presence in Iraq as a provocation to the U.S. or for “self-defense” reasons. Reason enough to insist on more American troops? Or is the Iraqi government already so beholden to Iran that it won’t let that happen even if we demand it?

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Obama proceeding with his plans to aid Iran. He’s totally on track. Only fools believe otherwise.

Name one nation which is free, due to Obama, I triple dare you.

Schadenfreude on September 6, 2011 at 8:12 PM

The guy in the pictue is not very smart. He is just a potted plant at Defense.

Schadenfreude on September 6, 2011 at 8:13 PM

Obama.

The gift that keeps on giving.

BallisticBob on September 6, 2011 at 8:13 PM

The broader strategic consideration is what happens if (a) the Iranian nuke kabuki finally comes to a head between Iran and the west and/or (b) Iran’s pal Assad is toppled in Syria by the Sunni majority, leaving a power hostile to Tehran right on Iraq’s doorstep. Either of those scenarios could lead Iran to increase its presence in Iraq as a provocation to the U.S. or for “self-defense” reasons. Reason enough to insist on more American troops? Or is the Iraqi government already so beholden to Iran that it won’t let that happen even if we demand it?

Oh, man, this Iraq adventure just gets better and better all the time.

Not directed at you AP, but rhetorically: Is there any scenario in which US troops come home under conditions America can agree on as “Victory”?

JohnGalt23 on September 6, 2011 at 8:14 PM

Obama, Ahmi’s brother.

Yes, “leading from behind” works to perfection.

The ‘Arabic Sprin’g is in full bloom.

Schadenfreude on September 6, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Could we really be nearing an end to our involvement in this disaster? I’ll believe it when I see it.

ernesto on September 6, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Before it’s all over, only 30 soldiers will remain in Iraq – just you wait and see. And they will all be from Texas.

honsy on September 6, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Oh – look who crawled out of his hole!

honsy on September 6, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Just how much at risk are those 3000 going to be? At this point, if that’s the number, pull them all out.

rbj on September 6, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Another campaign ploy.

Knucklehead on September 6, 2011 at 8:17 PM

If 3,000 is in fact the number, evidently they’ve settled on “token force incapable of doing anything useful” as optimal.

Didn’t UK have a problem just defending Basra with that amount?

the_nile on September 6, 2011 at 8:18 PM

He told us in no uncertain terms that he would withdraw the troops from Iraq – after all, that was the entire premise of the Democrats claim to the White House, the war in Iraq.

He could care less of the consequences of his actions.

He thinks that he’ll be able to thump his chest during the campaign, the left breast will be for killing Osama Bin Laden with his mind, and the right other left breast will be the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

I predict if this is as big a deal as the Generals seem to think it is, one of them will step forward and bitchslap this idiot in public – after resigning his commission, of course.

turfmann on September 6, 2011 at 8:19 PM

Alternate headline:
Obama paints targets on 3000 Americans in Iraq.

(I love my spell check, it always says Obama is wrong)

darwin-t on September 6, 2011 at 8:20 PM

Why not just pull everyone out? Why are we still there anyway?

Notorious GOP on September 6, 2011 at 8:21 PM

I have said for years . We ain’t leaving. At least not anytime in the near future.

U.S. Embassy: A Lavish American Palace

Against the Iraq backdrop of violence and misery, soaring unemployment and middle class flight, malnutrition and unprecedented illness for Iraqis… rises an American embassy-palace the likes of which the world has never before seen, and four plush, seemingly-permanent bases for US armed forces.

Here is info published by the world’s leading news media sources about the new US Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone. It is/has…

– the largest embassy in world history
– the only building project in Iraq on-time and on-budget
– a bomb-proof super-bunker with a 15-ft thick perimeter wall
– 21 buildings on 104 acres, the size of 80 football fields
– wired for state-of-the-art communications and surveillance
– “extraordinary” security measures
– Congress was told that the cost is $592 million
– impressive residences for the Ambassador and his deputy, and six posh apartments for senior officials
– a water-treatment plant and power generator (to provide basic services not yet restored to pre-invasion levels for Iraqis)
– two huge blocks of offices for 8,000 US staff workers
– the biggest swimming pool in Iraq
– a well-equipped gym
– tennis courts
– movie theater
– restaurants serving US food chain favorites
– a “swish” American Club for evening social functions

http://usliberals.about.com/od/homelandsecurit1/a/AmerPalace.htm

CW on September 6, 2011 at 8:22 PM

the generals should resign.

then again…

if we do ever attack iran with missiles, it might be a good idea not to have too many troops in the region: they’re atarget rich site in the vicinity.

reliapundit on September 6, 2011 at 8:22 PM

Wait til the Iraqi government finds that the only thing more explosive than having US troops there, are the IEDs that will be going off in exponential numbers against the government officials once we have been nullified in Iraq. Iraqi officials ought to take a good hard history lesson from our speedy departure from South Vietnam in 1973, and the fall of our ally’s government within 18 months thereafter. We also trained the South Vietnamese to counter their insurgency, to no avail. The Iraqi Government should ask itself, “Do you feel lucky?”

eaglewingz08 on September 6, 2011 at 8:23 PM

Why not just pull everyone out? Why are we still there anyway?

Notorious GOP on September 6, 2011 at 8:21 PM

You think Obama will watch it crumble under his watch?

CW on September 6, 2011 at 8:23 PM

Politically expedient Presidential decisions are the priority, not the lives of our heroes—it’s the Chicago Way.

Could we really be nearing an end to our involvement in this disaster? I’ll believe it when I see it.

ernesto on September 6, 2011 at 8:15 PM

When Barry tells you it’s the end Ernie, swallow it and tell us all how good it taste…………and then try to sell it.

Rovin on September 6, 2011 at 8:23 PM

What seems to be lost in this is that this i Obama excending the mission in Iraq beyond its scheduled end date, and we don’t have Iraq’s permission to be anything but 100% gone at the end of the year.

Yes, you heard right. Obama is hoping to extend the mission in Iraq which he vowed to end.

Pablo on September 6, 2011 at 8:23 PM

For perspective, NY City has 34,500 police officers.

rogerb on September 6, 2011 at 8:24 PM

Is it Obama who’s pushing this new number, as some sort of election message about having brought all (or almost all) the troops home?

Well, WHO has the most to gain from his base?

GarandFan on September 6, 2011 at 8:26 PM

We are at the mercy of the Iraq government. They get to determine if we stay at all ……………. but, I think 3000 is far too low. I would like for 25,000 to keep the peace………….but, I don’t want our soldiers to die for a cause that will be lost if we leave too few or what I think is the right number. Iraq has to evolve into a mature constitutional democracy. We have done a lot of the work. They need to decide what they want.

SC.Charlie on September 6, 2011 at 8:26 PM

I’ll make you a prediction. This is all b/s for the leftie left. For good/bad the troops will be in Iraq/Afghanistan as long, or longer, than in Germany and South Korea.

Why are the troops still in Germany, btw?

Schadenfreude on September 6, 2011 at 8:26 PM

Obama has no foreign policy, not domestic economic policy, no energy policy. He’s just all re-election, all the time. He is a national disgrace. How could we even be imagining that this dreadful man could possibly win re-election? There is simply no one worse. No one.

Rational Thought on September 6, 2011 at 8:27 PM

I’ll be happy when the number is zero.

mythicknight on September 6, 2011 at 8:28 PM

Last month was the first month in the entire war no troops died in Iraq.

Obama is trying to snatch defeat from the Jaws of Victory and setup a debate about losing Iraq to Iran down the road, by our own idiotic choosing.

jp on September 6, 2011 at 8:29 PM

probably a sign he’s worried about losing part of his base

jp on September 6, 2011 at 8:32 PM

Why are the troops still in Germany, btw?

Schadenfreude on September 6, 2011 at 8:26 PM

To allow Germans to retire at 55 from jobs in which they are mandated to take 6 weeks vacation.

Duh.

JohnGalt23 on September 6, 2011 at 8:32 PM

Is it Obama who’s pushing this new number, as some sort of election message about having brought all (or almost all) the troops home?

That would be my guess. He’s grasping at straws. And, he’s a lunatic.

scalleywag on September 6, 2011 at 8:32 PM

Why are the troops still in Germany, btw?

Schadenfreude on September 6, 2011 at 8:26 PM

because the Germans want them there and Pay for them for starters.

Secondarily, its easier to deploy them into the region and Africa from that main base than from Kansas, along with the increased cost to house them in Kansas where the German Tax payers will not being paying any part, unlike now.

jp on September 6, 2011 at 8:34 PM

depending on what types of assistance the Iraqis say they need…

Money and bomb magnets are appreciated.

So you had your big date and it is hard to say how it came off. And here you are on the doorstep wondering if there will be a good night kiss. So what if he slapped you and spit in your face. In your heart you know your love could change him.

BL@KBIRD on September 6, 2011 at 8:36 PM

There is simply no one worse. No one.

Rational Thought on September 6, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Apparently there is no one better, either. Laura Ingraham keeps asking people if there is any other democrat who is more qualified to be president and no one seems to have an answer…they say the president is doing a great job.

scalleywag on September 6, 2011 at 8:39 PM

CW on September 6, 2011 at 8:22 PM

No helicopter landing pad on the roof for air evac?

Skandia Recluse on September 6, 2011 at 8:44 PM

“We can’t secure everybody with only 3,000 on the ground nor can we do what we need to with the Iraqis,” one source said.

So Obama might continue to imitate Carter by getting into an American Middle East hostage situation? And one orchestrated by Iran, ho doubt.

Wethal on September 6, 2011 at 8:47 PM

It’s called shorin’ up duh base.

SouthernGent on September 6, 2011 at 8:48 PM

Peace in our time.

Ward Cleaver on September 6, 2011 at 8:49 PM

No helicopter landing pad on the roof for air evac?

Skandia Recluse on September 6, 2011 at 8:44 PM

Heh but why? We are not leaving

CW on September 6, 2011 at 8:58 PM

Could we really be nearing an end to our involvement in this disaster? I’ll believe it when I see it.

ernesto on September 6, 2011 at 8:15 PM

It wasn’t a disaster.

hawkdriver on September 6, 2011 at 9:04 PM

It wasn’t a disaster.

hawkdriver

Anytime a nation is freed from serfdom and is not handed over to Communists is a disaster for Leftists. That’s why they hated Reagan so much – for liberating Eastern Europe from the Soviets.

honsy on September 6, 2011 at 9:11 PM

Iraqi officials ought to take a good hard history lesson from our speedy departure from South Vietnam in 1973, and the fall of our ally’s government within 18 months thereafter. We also trained the South Vietnamese to counter their insurgency, to no avail. The Iraqi Government should ask itself, “Do you feel lucky?”

eaglewingz08 on September 6, 2011 at 8:23 PM

Democrats doing what they do best.

whbates on September 6, 2011 at 9:11 PM

Once we are down to 3000 trainers, can’t the Iranians just storm Iraq with their own troops and put Sadr in as a Quisling type puppet? I assume the 3000 Americans would have to flee or be killed. I doubt if Obama would do anything effective to stop them.

KW64 on September 6, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Our troops took down a vicious tyrant in Iraq and I think we were right to do that and the people there are better off than if we hadn’t. I’m very proud of our troops for that. I don’t think we’re ready to cut down to a minimum there unless the Iraqi government thinks we need to go.

Just an aside…remember how many anti-war protesters there were when Bush was in office? Where have they been since Obama took office?

scalleywag on September 6, 2011 at 9:14 PM

I imagine Iran could enlist Ergogan’s Turkey to help them take Iraq if they offer them a lot of the Kurdish oil areas once we have become irrelevant.

KW64 on September 6, 2011 at 9:15 PM

This is great news for Iran. Obama is removing lethal military force from the region just as Iran grows closer to “the bomb”.

This is a gigantic strategic blunder. Or, a carefully orchestrated abandoning of the Middle East.

Either way, Israels problems just increased exponentially.

B+

BobMbx on September 6, 2011 at 9:16 PM

I doubt if Obama would do anything effective to stop them.

KW64 on September 6, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Half-assed attempt to secure a ferry to get them out?

BobMbx on September 6, 2011 at 9:17 PM

You keep enough troops to protect each other as per the generals on the ground or you leave early in defeat.

Either way, I blame Obama for murder, or for being the just plain most cowardly commander in chief that ever lived…

golfmann on September 6, 2011 at 9:19 PM

Another campaign ploy.

Knucklehead on September 6, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Absolutely. He’ll do anything for votes.

Dopenstrange on September 6, 2011 at 9:28 PM

It wasn’t a disaster.

hawkdriver on September 6, 2011 at 9:04 PM

I think Ernie is talking about Obama’s Presidency.

Aviator on September 6, 2011 at 9:34 PM

Voting “present” when it comes to tough decisions is all Obama knows. But, if he does it in this case, when good men and women in uniform will die as a result, he can rest assured that hell is the least he will have to pay. As political as some of the brass is, they will call him out on this and a time and place of their own choosing. You mess with the troops at your own peril. And the result will not be a day at the beach or on Martha’s Vineyard.

TXUS on September 6, 2011 at 9:36 PM

The American Left assisted in the overthrow of the Shah, not understanding what would replace him. The American Left continues to assist Iran now by undermining efforts in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Connie on September 6, 2011 at 9:56 PM

Why are the troops still in Germany, btw?

Schadenfreude on September 6, 2011 at 8:26 PM

Frauleins und bier und springerle.

Lon Chaney on September 6, 2011 at 11:08 PM

It wasn’t a disaster.

hawkdriver on September 6, 2011 at 9:04 PM

Just a very costly Bridge to Nowhere.

Lon Chaney on September 6, 2011 at 11:10 PM

Incompetence, corruption, and ruin.

Kenosha Kid on September 6, 2011 at 11:20 PM

Corrected headline: OBAMA DESTROYS ANOTHER 27,000 AMERICAN JOBS!!!

landlines on September 7, 2011 at 2:00 AM

Ending a war for political expediency, rather than victory, has not ended well for the USA, since World War II.

Korea
Vietnam
Desert Storm.

I do not this one will end any different.

Eternal shame on 0bamAA+ for wasting the blood sacrifice of thousands of our young soldiers.

cane_loader on September 7, 2011 at 2:41 AM

Oh yeah, don’t forget Bay of Pigs

cane_loader on September 7, 2011 at 2:42 AM

Are we leaving all our trucks and tanks and so on?
1000% of Fast & Furious?

tomg51 on September 7, 2011 at 6:26 AM

– Congress was told that the cost is $592 million

Which means the real cost is probably three times that amount.

Oh well, I’m sure some Islamofascist mullah and his toadies will enjoy all the fancy amenities once the U.S. has been forced out. It will probably make a nifty HQ from which they can plan future terrorist attacks on the U.S.

AZCoyote on September 7, 2011 at 7:30 AM

Uh, go up this page to the right, highlight “Pax Americana, we hardly knew ye” and read it. It is fascinating. And I think it’s right on target.

oldleprechaun on September 7, 2011 at 7:56 AM

Pulling out of Iraq is a good thing since we can’t afford to stay there any longer. This is a money thing I can assure you. It’s not about what we want to do, it’s about what we can afford to do.

gator70 on September 7, 2011 at 8:17 AM

If the Generals don’t like the decision, they can proffer their letters of resignation immediately.

Khun Joe on September 7, 2011 at 9:16 AM