3K US Troops May Stay in Iraq
Total pullout deadline apparently off
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Sep 7, 2011 1:38 AM CDT
US Army Pvt. 1st Class David Hedge and fellow soldiers rush early last month to a Blackhawk helicopter after a an operation to disrupt weapons smuggling in Istaqlal, north of Baghdad, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
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(Newser) – The last US troops in Iraq could be there for a long time. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants to leave 3,000 service members beyond the pullout deadline promised by President Obama. No final decision has been made and discussions are continuing with the Iraqis, an administrative source tells CNN. More than 40,000 troops are currently stationed in Iraq and the current official plan is for all troops to come home by the end of the year. But officials expect Iraq to request some to remain behind for security and training.

US military proposals presented at the Pentagon have indicated as many as 18,000 troops should be left behind, reports the New York Times. Politicians on both sides of the aisle expressed concern that 3,000 is far too low a number to leave behind. "I think it's too fast," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Diane Feinstein. "There are some serious things going on there that need to be stopped," added the California Democrat. Sen. John McCain said the figure is "dramatically lower than what our military leaders have consistently told us that they require."