4000 US troops to leave Iraq next month
The United States will pull out some 4,000 soldiers from Iraq by the end of next month, the U.S. military commander in Iraq said in testimony prepared for a congressional hearing on Wednesday. General Ray Odierno will tell the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee that the United States is on track to pull out all combat forces from Iraq by September 2010.
"We have approximately 124,000 troops and 11 Combat Teams operating in Iraq today. By the end of October, I believe we will be down to 120,000 troops in Iraq," Odierno said, according to Reuters. "As we go forward, we will thin out lines across Iraq in order to reduce the risk and sustain stability through a deliberate transition of responsibilities to the Iraqi security forces."
According to Odierno, the number of American contractors in Iraq has declined from 149,000 in January to just over 115,000, saving over $441 million. Nearly 100 U.S. bases also have been closed, the testimony said.
Odierno said that Iraq security is improving, but there are still some sources of potential conflict. "I call these drivers of instability," he said, listing among them national elections coming up in January, Arab-Kurd tensions and violent groups within Iraq.