The US is slowly beginning to reduce the number of troops deployed in Iraq, the first real test of whether the surge has been effective, the AP says. One of 20 combat brigades is heading home now, and another four will leave by July, dropping the number of troops in Iraq from 167,000 to between 140,000 and 145,000.
This has been the deadliest year for the US so far, thanks to increased troop levels and a greater street presence. The withdrawal will test the willingness of Iraqis to take over security. “The Iraqi people have just decided they've had it up to here with violence,” one major general said. The question is whether they’ll revert to sectarian mindsets without US oversight.