Australia, one of the first countries to commit troops to the war in Iraq five years ago, has ended its operations there.
Australian troops are due to begin returning home in a few days in line with a promise by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who swept to power in November. He said the Iraq deployment was making Australia more of a terrorist target.
The Australians had deployed more than 500 troops in Iraq, helping to train some 33,000 Iraqi soldiers. About 300 Australians will remain inside Iraq on logistical and air surveillance duties. No Australian soldiers were killed in combat in Iraq though several were wounded.
Not that 500 men staying is making a lot of difference but them leaving it will make!
President George W Bush says he will put a freeze on the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, as requested by his top general in the country.
The president told the Weekly Standard magazine that the “drawdown” would continue until July as planned.
But after that, he said, Gen Petraeus “wants to wait and see. And I strongly support that. And therefore I won’t commit beyond July.”
No worries George, till December plenty of time to think about it, after December the decision is not …yours!
The top U.S. military commander in Iraq said Wednesday that he is unlikely to call for another troop buildup in Iraq, even if security deteriorates after the extra American soldiers return home this summer.
Gen. David Petraeus told a House panel that such a move would be considered the last resort, in part because of the strain it would place on the Army. First, the military could try to reallocate existing troops to respond to any hotspots. It also would rely more on Iraqi forces, which are improving in capability, he said.
“That would be a pretty remote thought in my mind,” he said of reinstating last year’s influx of troops. Petraeus has recommended to President Bush that the U.S. complete, by the end of July, the withdrawal of the 20,000 troops that were sent to Iraq last year to calm the violence there. Beyond that, the general proposed a 45-day evaluation period, to be followed by an indefinite period of assessment before he would recommend any further pullouts.
If the general says so imagine how things …really are! But there is a catch here as well, fine no more troops but what about the number of troops already there?