The US troop counts in Iraq will be dependent on which count provides Obama the largest electoral support in the November election. So, of necessity, it'll be a moving target. Ignoring the validity of the statement, "Ending Bush's Wars" has to be a huge campaign strategy for the Obamistas, by default, as the cupboard is so barren elsewhere. But they also have to make sure they stay in line with public sentiment, as they claim these "endings".
I think you asked this a few months ago, didn't you? My answer then and now is "Too many."
10-20K.Obama will want to have ended the war, but still look like he's tough and such.The thing is: these forces tend to linger for a VERY long time, because you can't just invade a country and *poof* it's democratic, stable, or anything.
At least a hundred thousand, because it's all about the oil. If we were serious about nation-building, and civil society, and regional security, and all that IR-class stuff, instead of oil, you'd have seen a similar number committed to Afghanistan, where the hydrocarbons are few and the intractable problems many, perhaps under some international framework. And we know that didn't happen.
The number as of two weeks ago was 49,700. I'd bet on that being below 20,000 but not at zero, by 12/31.
Have the Iraqis themselves decided whether they want us to stay? It sounds like there are some in the defense community -- if not Obama himself -- who want us to stay longer. Politically, the best move for Obama is to bring home the troops, so my bet is that numbers will at least decline somewhat next year. Of course, everything is complicated if the casualty rate increases significantly. This is a good time to declare victory and leave completely.
I guess Obama will leave around 500 troops, each containing an average of 40 soldiers.
17,569, Next Sunday, ask a hard question.But seriously, It is my belief that Obama would pull out every last man, dog, and brass shell casing tomorrow if he could. My question back to you all is what is stopping him? Or am I wrong about Obama's intent?
Chaz, they're not all soldiers.
My guess is somewhere in the 15,000 range, maybe a bit more. And I would also suppose that we call them instructors or trainers or something that will make it sound somewhat safer. Whether their actually responsibilities change is somewhat murkier.
@CouvesHuh? The 20,000 soldiers I guess will remain in Iraq are not all soldiers?
Chaz, we don't call members of the Marines, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard "soldiers." I'm sorry if it seems like a pedantic point, but it's one that some people take seriously -- they are, after all, risking their lives for us.
I see your point about the sailors and airmen, although I feel they fit under a broad definition of "soldier". The business with the Marines is just ridiculous though. They're not soldiers, they're Marines! They're not infantry, they're riflemen! It's dumb. A few self-absorbed generals are not entitled to redefine longstanding English words.So when I'm talking, they most certainly are soldiers.
P.S. The soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are not in fact risking their lives for me or you. A positive way to describe it is that they are risking their lives to protect foreigners. That's still commendable (actually more commendable in my book), but it's quite different. We have not had a war in which Americans actually needed protecting since 1812 (or kinda sorta WW2).(A negative way would be that they are risking their lives to make U.S. politicians look good)
At The Washington Post
At The American Prospect