Troop Withdrawal Delayed

Earlier today, Gen. Ray Odierno, the top American commander in Iraq, announced that 20 percent of US combat troops would remain in Iraqi cities beyond the Jun. 30 deadline set for their withdrawal.  Most of the forces that remain in urban areas would be based in Baghdad and Mosul.  In addition, 20,000 servicemen and women will be stationed at Camp Victory, which is only a 15-minute drive  from Baghdad but is officially considered to be outside the capital city.   There are currently 134,000 American troops in Iraq.

The announcement comes after several recent high-profile suicide attacks and other violence in Baghdad and Mosul, the city where Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia remains most active.

There is widespread concern that Iraqi security forces will not be able to provide adequate security once American forces pullout.  The Iraqi security apparatus is plagued by shortages of men and equipment, political interference , corruption and infiltration by insurgents.  It is also dependent on the US when it comes to things like logistics, intelligence, medical care and aviation, according to the Pentagon.  A Center for Army Analysis report released in March states that Iraqi army and police units will be “incapable of overmatching the threat” against them next year.

The precarious situation in Iraq could deteriorate rapidly when the US begins to leave in earnest.  The Obama administration may soon be forced to choose between two unpleasant alternatives: let Iraq descend into uncontollable violence, or keep large numbers of American troops there indefinitely.

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