Iraqis will no longer encounter the US Army in their city centres. Iraqi police and military have for some time now been patrolling with American forces. Now they are going it alone.
Some 131,000 American soldiers are pulling out from the main urban areas. Their numbers will shrink to a minimum of 128,000 for elections in 2010. After August the same year there will be a maximum of 50,000. A full pull-out is envisaged by the end of 2011. While the American military is withdrawing from active combat operations, as US President, Barak Obama, said in February this year, there will still be a sizeable presence in the country. “We will retain a transitional force to carry out three distinct functions: training, equipping and admission of Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq.” Day-to-day security on the mean streets of Iraq’s cities will now fall to some 750,000 Iraqi personnel: 500,000 police and 250,000 soldiers. And a big change from the rules of engagement prior to now is that the US army will now be stationed in barracks outside town. If they wish to intervene militarily or stage an operation, they must first seek the permission of Iraqi authorities. The cost in blood for the occupation has been enormous: 4,000 American military, 1,900 Iraqi security; while more than 100,000 civilians have been killed. Iraqis policing Iraq might look better, even with American equipment, however the fear is that the absence of a US presence on the streets might give insurgents the space to regroup and rebound.