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Tuesday, October 18, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Last U.S. Marine training unit leaves Iraq

BAGHDAD — The United States, failing to obtain agreement for an extension, has proceeded with plans to withdraw its military from Iraq.


Officials said the U.S. military, with 40,000 troops left, was ending training programs throughout Iraq. On Oct. 14, the Marine Corps completed its training mission in Iraq and left for neighboring Kuwait.

"Your mission is now complete," Col. Eric Thomas, a senior officer in the Marine Central Command, said. "You are the last Marine team to have officially helped train the Iraqi marine corps."

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The final mission of Marine Expeditionary Force took place at Iraq's southern naval base of Umm Qasr, Middle East Newsline reported. Since May, the Marines trained Iraqis in patrols, night operations, weapons training, and search and seizure techniques.

"The Iraqi Marines have a huge responsibility ahead them, because of your team, and others before, the Iraqi marines are ready and trained," Thomas said.

Officials said the U.S. pullout would be accelerated over the next month. They said the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has failed to agree to any U.S. proposal to maintain a military training presence in Iraq. The main point of contention has been the U.S. insistence that its troops be granted immunity.

At Umm Qasr, the final Marine training mission provided instruction to more than 1,200 Iraqi troops and conducted 500 combat patrols. Marine instructors also helped the Iraq Navy in night missions as well as vessel interception and boarding.

"We advocated for over $10 million of military equipment for the Iraqi Marines," U.S. Marine Maj. Monte Powell, a team leader, said. "In addition, the team assessed the basic needs of the Iraqi Navy and made recommendations to the Iraqi Navy chief."

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