BAGHDAD (March 8, 2009) – Two Army brigades leaving Iraq in the next six months won’t be replaced, Multi-National Force - Iraq officials announced Sunday.
Associated enabling forces — such as logistics, engineers and intelligence Soldiers — will leave along with the brigades, and an Air Force F-16 squadron that recently returned to its home station also will not be replaced, officials said.
The drawdown will reduce the total number of U.S. brigade combat teams in Iraq from 14 to 12. A British combat brigade also will return home without replacement.
Officials said the increased level of security and stability that Iraq has achieved over the last 12 months, the growth in capability and capacity of the Iraqi security forces, and the transition from counterinsurgency to stability operations throughout most of Iraq made the reduction possible.
Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq, made the recommendations to reduce these forces within the next six months, leaving 12,000 fewer U.S. and 4,000 fewer British forces in Iraq.
Officials called the force reduction a significant step in the implementation of the U.S.-Iraq security agreement that took effect Jan. 1, and of President Barack Obama’s decision to conduct a responsible drawdown of U.S. combat forces in Iraq.
"The time and conditions are right for coalition forces to reduce the number of troops in Iraq," Odierno said. "The successful provincial elections demonstrated the increased capability of the Iraqi army and police to provide security. In the coming months, Iraqis will see the number of U.S. forces go down in the cities, while more and more Iraqi flags will go up at formerly shared security stations."