U.S. forces will still conduct joint combat operations even after they pull back to bases outside Baghdad and other cities as part of the U.S.-Iraqi security deal, a spokesman said Sunday. Brig. Gen. Frederick Rudesheim, a deputy commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, said the redeployment to the periphery will actually help improve security in the Iraqi capital because American soldiers can help stop gunmen from using bases in rural areas to stage urban attacks.
"I want to leave it very clear that there's no cessation of combat operations," Rudesheim said, according to the AP. But he said the troops will travel to the site of the combat operations from bases outside the city instead of outposts that were established throughout various neighborhoods as part of the 2007 U.S. troop surge.
"We will not forsake the security that has been established by the Iraqi security forces and coalition forces," he said.
The security pact calls for U.S. combat forces to leave the cities by the end of June in the first step of a plan to pull out all American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
Rudesheim said U.S. military transition teams that train Iraqi forces will remain at posts within the city, but U.S. and Iraqi officials were still negotiating over which other units should remain after the June 30 deadline. "What we're wrestling right now with and have not come to closure ... is what other formations need to stay in the city in order for us to accomplish our mission," Rudesheim said.