The United States is speeding up its military withdrawal from Iraq, sending 4,000 more troops home next month, top commander Ray Odierno will announce today. That'll bring the total number of troops in the country down to 120,000 by the end of October. "We have already begun deliberately drawing down our forces—without sacrificing security," Odierno says in a statement he'll deliver to the House.
In the statement, he expresses cautious optimism and outlines key challenges as US troops prepare to end combat missions, including:
- Security is still inadequate, as evidenced by a pair of truck bombings last month at Iraq's finance and foreign ministries in Baghdad.
- A system of government that is accepted across ethnic, sectarian, and regional lines has yet to be agreed on.
- The government hasn't found jobs for all members of the Sons of Iraq, the former Sunni insurgents who helped end the war.