30 June 2009

Troops pulling out of Iraqi cities, sort of

This was all over the news yesterday, but I didn't have time to deal with it, due to employment.

I'm glad to see that US troops are pulling out of the cities of Iraq, though I'd like to see it happening faster.  I have to admit that I'm reticent about popping the cork on a new bottle just yet, because it seems that the troops are just kinda...expanding their presence in rural areas.

[T]he first step -- withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009 -- is full of loopholes, and tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers will remain in the cities after the "deadline" passes.

The failure to fully comply with the withdrawal agreement indicates the United States is looking to withdraw from Iraq in name only, as it appears that up to 50,000 military personnel will remain after the deadline.

The United States claims it's adhering to the agreement, known as the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), even with so many troops being left in the cities. But the United States is changing semantics instead of policy. For example, there are no plans to transfer the 3,000 American troops stationed within Baghdad at Forward Operating Base Falcon, because commanders havedetermined that despite its location, it's not within the city.

The original intent of moving troops out of the cities was to reduce the U.S. military role and send the message to Iraqis that the United States would be leaving the country soon. But troops that are no longer sleeping in the cities will still take part in operations within Iraqi cities; they will serve in "support" and "advisory" roles, rather than combat functions. Such "reclassification" of troops as military trainers is another example of how the United States is circumventing the terms of the SOFA agreement.

The larger loophole in the agreement is the treatment of military contractors. There has been little mention of the 132,610 military contractors in Iraq. Of these, 36,061 are American citizens, according to a recent Department of Defense report.

Uh-huh.  So as I said, don't celebrate the end of the war just yet, plz.  Do read that entire article.


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