The Obama administration has decided to drop the number of U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of the year down to 3,000, marking a major downgrade in force strength, multiple sources familiar with the inner workings and decisions on U.S. troop movements in Iraq told Fox News..
Senior commanders are said to be livid at the decision, which has already been signed off by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
There are currently about 45,00 U.S. troops in Iraq. Commanders requested a reduction by year's end, but according to Fox, it wasn't enough for the White House. When they suggested a reduction to 10,000 the administration decided the final number would be just 3,000. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has already signed off on the plan, over the objections of senior military officials, who complain the dramatic cutback will leave them unable to meet mission requirements:
A senior military official said by reducing the number of troops to 3,000, the White House has effectively reduced the mission to training only.
"There is almost no room for security operations in that number; it will be almost purely a training mission," this official said. The official added that a very small number of troops within that 3,000 will be dedicated to counter-terrorism efforts, but that's not nearly what Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, wanted.