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)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.