US plan for troop withdrawal from Iraq becomes clear, mostly

Since September 2010, the US has maintained about six combat brigades plus supporting personnel in Iraq, about 45,000 troops. The current Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq requires all US troops to leave by the end 2011. However, negotiations are still in progress that would allow some troops to remain after that date. Even in the absence of a decision on the agreement, recent news reports make clear the US drawdown plan.

The plan, October – December 2011

Of the six combat brigades currently deployed in Iraq, four have plans to leave by December.

  • 2nd Brigade / 1st Infantry Division, is scheduled to leave in October as part of its normal 12 month rotation.
  • 3rd Brigade / 1st Cavalry Division will begin withdrawal in November.
  • 2nd Brigade / 1st Cavalry Division will begin withdrawal at the end of November.
  • 1st Brigade / 1st Cavalry Division will withdraw in December.

The plan after December 2011

This leaves two brigades, plus support troops (about 15,000 total), for which no specific plan has been announced. They are:

  • 2nd Brigade / 82nd Airborne Division, deployed in western Iraq
  • 4th Brigade / 1st Armored Division, deployed in northern Iraq

These are the brigades that would remain in Iraq if a new SOFA is reached. Depending on how the agreement is reached, some portion of one or both of these brigades could remain.

If no agreement is reached, these brigades will leave Iraq but they will probably not return to the US. It is likely they would redeploy to Kuwait. This would leave open the option of returning to Iraq if an agreement is reached at a later date or if some change in circumstance requires it.

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1 Comment

  • Soccer says:

    Nobody cares about Iraq anymore, that much is obvious. But I have a feeling that if Iraq is not handled properly, and we forget about it, and if we don’t support it, it could end up being another Somalia in 15-20 years time. The Iraqi security forces are going to have one hell of a fight on their hands in the future.


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