U.S. has reduced miliary presence in Iraq by 20,000 since war's end
SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Friday, September 19, 2003
The United States has reduced its military force level
U.S. officials said that over the last four months the military has
withdrawn about 20,000 troops from Iraq. They said the American soldiers
have been replaced by a new international division led by Poland.
Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the
U.S. force level in Iraq has been reduced from 150,000 at the end of the war
in Iraq in June to the current 130,000. Pace said the number of soldiers
from U.S. allies in Iraq has risen from 12,000 to 24,000.
The biggest increase in the number of non-U.S. troops in Iraq has been
that of the newly-reconstituted Iraqi military, police and civil defense
forces, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said 32 countries have contributed forces to the Iraq region.
They said an additional 14 countries are discussing sending troops.
Pace said about 60,000 Iraqis have begun conducting security
missions in Iraq with another 10,000 undergoing training.
"The bottom line is the numbers of individuals providing security in
Iraq is increasing day by day by day, and the proportion of that that is
coalition," Pace told a Defense Department briefing on Tuesday. "And the
proportion of that that is Iraqi is increasing dramatically."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the United States wants to
organize another international division of up to 15,000 troops. Rumsfeld
said a United Nations resolution on Iraq could help persuade countries to
contribute to the effort.
But the defense secretary stressed that the expansion of the Iraqi and
international force would not immediately lead to a further reduction of
U.S. troops. Rumsfeld said the chief consideration would be the security
situation in Iraq.
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"They're [U.S. troops] currently doing things other than the toughest
activities," Rumsfeld said. "So as you replace them with forces that may
have somewhat less training or less equipment, you can assign those forces
to the activities that require less training and less equipment."