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Monday, September 12, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

U.S.-Iraq compromise: Troops cut from 20,000
to 5,000 with RDF in Kuwait

WASHINGTON — The United States has agreed to a significant reduction of its plan to extend an American military presence in Iraq in 2012.


Officials said the Defense Department and Joint Chiefs of Staff have agreed to reduce the number of U.S. troops proposed to remain in Iraq after 2011 from 20,000 to as little as 5,000. They said most of the proposed force would consist of trainers, backed by security and logistics units.

"There are some gaps in their [Iraqi] military capabilities, their security capabilities, that we believe we could offer some assistance with," Joint Chiefs spokesman Capt. John Kirby said.

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Under the revised U.S. plan, the Pentagon would deploy thousands of troops in neighboring Kuwait. Officials said the military personnel in the Gulf Cooperation Council sheikdom would be assigned to serve as a rapid-response force to any emergency in Iraq.

The initial U.S. position called for 20,000 troops, about 8,000 of them instructors, to remain in Iraq in 2011. Officials said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki rejected the U.S. plan and insisted that no more than 5,000 instructors and support troops remain in his country.

In September, Washington was said to have relayed a proposal for the deployment of between 3,000 and 5,000 troops in Iraq starting from 2012.

Officials said thousands of additional troops would be based in Kuwait and serve to rotate units every six months until 2015.

The U.S. military has already deployed tens of thousands of troops in Kuwait, a major non-NATO ally of Washington. Kuwait has served as a hub for U.S. military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

U.S. Army chief of Staff Gen Ray Odierno said the training requirement in Iraq would be adjusted as its military absorbs new platforms and equipment. Odierno, the former commander in Iraq, said the larger the force the more opposition it would engender.

"When I was leaving Iraq a year ago, I felt we had to be careful about leaving too many people in Iraq," Odierno said.

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