US troop drawdown 'on track'
Baghdad, July 28, 2010
A planned drawdown of US troops in Iraq was on track, citing 'stunning' progress in security over the past three years, a top US military officer said.
Before arriving in Baghdad, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, told reporters on his plane that Iraq's military and police had proven themselves over the past year.
Based on briefings from US commanders, Mullen said the Iraqi forces 'are ready' to take full responsibility for security in the country as American forces are scaled back to a 50,000-strong mission, according to a report in our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News.
He said the Iraqi troops are 'performing in the lead exceptionally well.'
'I've seen their response in various situations where violent attacks have occurred. And their response has really been good.'
He recalled grim days during the peak of sectarian violence three years ago, 'when there was great despair about where all this was going.'
Mullen said the progress since 2007 represented 'truly a stunning achievement.'
He added at a Press conference in Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone: 'We are on track to reduce the number of American forces here in Iraq to 50,000 or less by the 1st of September.'
The US has less than 65,000 soldiers in Iraq but all combat troops are due out by then, leaving a training and advisory force of 50,000. And by December 2011, all remaining troops are to leave. – TradeArabia News Service