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Mullen: Iraq withdrawal still set

POSTED: April 25, 2011 9:19 a.m.

All American troops will be out of Iraq at the end of the year in accordance with the security agreement signed in 2008, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday.
“There are no plans — nor has there been any request from the Iraqi government — for any residual U.S. force presence here after December,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said during a news conference.
Roughly 47,000 American service members are in Iraq now. Since signing the agreement, the United States already  has withdrawn more than 100,000 personnel; at the height of the surge, the U.S. military had about 170,000 personnel in Iraq.
Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Forces-Iraq, has a plan in place to complete the withdrawal on time, Mullen said. “There are no official discussions with respect to any extended presence of United States forces,” the chairman added.
Though Iraqi security forces have the capability to defend their country, Mullen said, they still have vulnerabilities that will not be closed by the end of the year. The Iraqi Air Force, which has no fighter jets, will not be up to the task of defending its airspace, he noted. Intelligence capabilities and command and control capabilities need to be filled out, he added, and sustainment, maintenance and logistics capabilities need to be much more robust.
“For our part, the United States military will remain committed to helping Iraqi security forces improve their readiness in these areas,” Mullen said. “We will continue to help our State Department as they now assume the mantle of leadership in this relationship.”

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