The United States will keep its promise to the Iraqi government and pull all US troops out of the country by Dec. 31, said Pentagon spokesman Marine Col. Dave Lapan Wednesday. He was refuting a Los Angeles Times report indicating that the White House was prepared to leave as many as 10,000 boots on the ground past year’s end out of concern that the planned pullout would lead to intensified attacks from militants. “The process for troops to remain in the country after that date begins with an official request from the Iraqi government, and no such request has been made,” said Lapan. “Until the government of Iraq makes a request, there is no number.” The Iraqi government appears to be deeply divided over the issue, even though some prominent figures have been quite vocal about the need for a complete US withdrawal. (AFPS report by Jim Garamone)
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.