US debates paring down Iraq mission

2011-09-08 14:10

kalahari.com

  • The Amateur
    A gripping read that reveals never before published details about the Obama administration's... Now R321.00
    buy now
Washington - As the White House debates keeping a much smaller force in Iraq after 2011, it will have to decide whether to give up a peacekeeping role in the country's volatile north, officials and analysts said on Wednesday.

Amid negotiations with Iraqi leaders on the scope of a future US military mission, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has approved a tentative proposal to retain as few as 3 000 to 4 000 troops beyond an end-of-year deadline, a senior defence official said.

The proposed smaller footprint, first reported by Fox News, has been floated as a way of navigating the politically-charged talks with Baghdad, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

US officials and senior officers had previously spoken of a larger training force of at roughly 10 000.

"If you go in with 10 000, then you may get nothing. You don't want to go heavy and overplay your hand," the official said.

The Obama administration's internal debate on Iraq requires the president's advisers and commanders to contemplate what tasks will be carried out by any follow-on force, and what missions might have to be jettisoned.

With the Iraqi military designed as a counter-insurgency force, US officers and experts have long argued that Iraq will need help with logistics, intelligence, counter-terrorism, air power and naval security.

3 000 not enough

But a lighter force of roughly 3 000 would be too small to address what top generals have said is perhaps the most serious threat to Iraq's stability, ethnic tensions between Kurds and Arabs in the country's oil-rich north.

"The presence of American troops on that border has diminished tensions and de-escalated a number of incidents," said John Nagl, a decorated former Army officer and president of the Centre for a New American Security.

The administration is examining what tasks now performed by troops could be handed over to private contractors, who are mostly American retired soldiers, but the peacekeeping mission in ethnically-mixed northern Iraq would likely not be one of them, he said.

"Probably the big mission that you can't imagine contractors doing is maintaining stability on the Kurdish-Arab border. That is probably an inherently governmental mission," said Nagl, whose think tank has had close ties with the administration of President Barack Obama.

US forces deployed in the north act as mediators between Kurdish and Iraqi army units, working to prevent misunderstandings and potential violent clashes over territorial disputes.

Roughly 4 000 to 5 000 troops would be needed to carry out the "honest broker" peacekeeping role in the north, Nagl said.

Panetta and Pentagon spokespersons have insisted no final decision has been made on future troop numbers, but Obama has already come under criticism for mulling such a scaled-back force.

We shouldn’t give up victory


Three senators issued a statement on Tuesday saying they were "deeply troubled" at the proposal and that such a scaled-back force would put at risk "hard-won" progress.

"We've won there, we should not give up that victory," House Armed Services Committee Chairperson Buck McKeon told reporters on Wednesday.

Obama faces competing demands over Iraq, with fellow Democrats urging him to make good on his promise to end the US involvement there, while Republicans and some military officers warn the country could unravel without enough US troops on the ground.

The administration has tried not to pile public pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki over the explosive issue, but the clock is ticking under the current security agreement that requires the remaining 46 000 American troops to withdraw by the end of the year.

Given the political difficulties, the defence official said a proposed lighter footprint likely would have a greater chance of winning support both in Baghdad and Washington.

"Three to four (thousand) is probably something Maliki can sell in Iraq and it is palatable to the American public," the official said.

Read more on:    nuri al-maliki  |  barack obama  |  iraq  |  us  |  security
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Cape Town - 16:15 PM
    Road name: Wet Weather
    RAIN across the greater Cape Town area - drive with care and use headlights - Allow Extra Tavel Time
  • Friday Kuils River - 09:28 AM
    Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound
    ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - DELAYS
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 has a beautiful one-piece, unibody design where...

From R2899.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The day may have a fluctuating sensitive energy to begin with, but later when the Moon moves into dramatic and creative Leo you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.