The United States has met all its obligations in Iraq and is “completely on track” for a full military withdrawal by year’s end, said the spokesman for US Forces-Iraq Wednesday. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said the command has redeployed 1.6 million pieces of equipment from Iraq and has 800,000 left to go. The number of US troops there is down to about 41,000 from roughly 100,000 in January 2009, while the number of military bases has dropped dramatically from 505 in 2008 to just 23 today, he said. The United States continues to discuss the possibility of keeping some troops in theater longer with Iraqi forces, said Buchanan. The question is, what role would they would play and what legal protections they would have, he said. Although “Iraq is still a dangerous place,” the biggest difference today “is that people here seem universally determined not to go back to sectarian violence,” said Buchanan. “They’re determined to take on these enemies as terrorists. Unlike in the past, they are universally hated and isolated.” (AFPS report by Lisa Daniel) (Buchanan transcript)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.