Will the second withdrawal from Iraq find more success than the first — or will Sunnis and Kurds have to gird themselves for a rematch against ISIS? Everyone will soon find out, the top US commander announced today. Force levels will drop by nearly half this month as troops withdraw from the theater, to fulfill a promise Donald Trump made last month to remove all US troops as soon as possible.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said the remainder — around 3000 troops — will work on assisting Iraq in “rooting out the final remnants” of ISIS:
The United States is cutting troop levels in Iraq roughly in half, to 3,000 forces, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East said Wednesday, in a long-expected move that will help fulfill President Trump’s goal of reducing the Pentagon’s overseas deployments.
The decision to reduce the 5,200 troops now in Iraq comes three weeks after Mr. Trump met with Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the Iraqi prime minister, in Washington, in part to finalize details of the drawdown, which will happen this month.
“This reduced footprint allows us to continue advising and assisting our Iraqi partners in rooting out the final remnants of ISIS in Iraq and ensuring its enduring defeat,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the military’s Central Command, said in remarks in Iraq on Wednesday. …
“This decision is due to our confidence in the Iraqi security forces’ increased ability to operate independently,” General McKenzie said.