The Department of Defense announced today that, in accordance with the security agreement between the United States and Iraq signed last year, U.S. combat forces have left Iraqi cities, villages and localities.
This historic security agreement between the United States and Iraq is indicative of Iraq’s confidence, capacity and capability as U.S. combat forces move out of Iraq’s urban areas.
At the forefront of creating a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq and developing an environment of political and economic growth, significant investments have been made in infrastructure, training, equipment, essential services, and the institution of rule of law to benefit all Iraqis.
As U.S. combat forces move out of the localities, Iraqi security forces (ISF) are assuming responsibility for security, a significant step for Iraq and a tribute to the tremendous progress made and dedication of the ISF members.
"The United States is committed to full, transparent, and continued implementation of the security agreement in a spirit of partnership with the sovereign nation of Iraq. Iraqi security forces continue to take the lead in the security and stability of Iraq,” said Gen. Ray Odierno, commanding general, Multi-National Force Iraq. U.S. forces outside urban areas will continue to conduct operations by, with, and through, ISF, focusing on securing Iraqi borders and areas outside the cities. “In order to meet our obligations under the security agreement, some U.S. forces will remain in cities to train, advise, and coordinate with Iraqi security forces, as well as support civil capacity efforts led by the U.S. Mission-Iraq, government of Iraq (GoI) and the United Nations. All U.S. forces retain full authority and ability to protect themselves, Iraqi security forces, and the Iraqi public," said Odierno.
To date, more than 150 U.S. bases have been closed or returned to the GoI since January 2008. U.S. troop strength has decreased to 131,000 from a high of 165,574 in September 2007. Contractors have also decreased from 164,491 to 125,163 today.
Additionally, more than $15 million of property has been transferred to the GoI. The United States will continue to reduce both number of bases and combat forces in 2010 through the end of 2011.
Increased security, improved Iraqi security forces, and continued progress in local and national government capacity has set the conditions for U.S. forces to withdraw from the cities.