Troop deaths show reduced U.S. forces still facing danger in Iraq
U.S. forces are seen training their Iraqi counterparts in Kirkuk, Iraq in November 2010.
June 6th, 2011
11:00 AM ET

Troop deaths show reduced U.S. forces still facing danger in Iraq

Five U.S. service members were among 25 people killed in Iraq on Monday, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.  Twenty Iraqis were killed in a series of explosions across the country, including a suicide bombing in Tikrit that killed 11.

The U.S. death toll is the highest in a single incident in two years, and it comes after the U.S. has drastically cut troop strength in Iraq. Only 46,000 U.S. troops remain in the country, down from 170,000 in 2007, during the peak of sectarian violence in Iraq.

U.S. troops have transitioned from a combat role to a support role in Iraq, training Iraqi soldiers and helping secure the country's borders and airspace.

That mission is scheduled to end, and those 46,000 troops to come home, by the end of the year under a plan set by a security agreement negotiated by the U.S. and Iraqi governments in 2008 that governs the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq.

Monday's deaths raise questions about that timeline. Iraq has been seeing an increase in violence that coincides with protesters calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is struggling to fill top security postings. The Iraqi government remains without ministers of defense, interior and national security.

Al-Maliki has given Cabinet ministers until Monday to reduce corruption and improve basic services, an ultimatum imposed after February demonstrations over corruption and lack of personal freedoms turned deadly.

While there may be a need for U.S. forces to remain in Iraq after January 1, the prospect of such a move is controversial - among U.S. and international politicians, military families and Iraqis.

In April, radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced in a statement read by another cleric on his behalf that he would "escalate armed resistance and lift the freeze on (the) Mehdi Army" if U.S. forces were to remain. His reference to lifting the freeze referred to the August 2007 suspension of activities by the Mehdi Army, which is al-Sadr's militia.

Those threats essentially leave two options for the U.S. and Iraqi governments: Keep U.S. troops past the deadline to help make sure the Iraqis can secure and protect themselves, but risk radical protests over a longer U.S. presence; or have U.S. troops do as much as they can in Iraq ahead of the deadline and pull out as scheduled.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in April that Iraqi officials have not asked the Obama administration to delay the planned withdrawal. Any discussion about a change in the timetable would be considered, he indicated, but would need to begin soon. Al-Maliki said the White House would need to know by August.

But any changes to the current U.S. mission could bring political heat for President Obama as the nation moves toward the 2012 presidential election.

On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, accused Obama of not laying out a clear mission for U.S. military operations overseas, including in Iraq. He argued that at a time when Congress is struggling to make significant spending cuts, the president owes the American people some answers.

"I really do believe that the president needs to speak out in terms of our mission in Afghanistan, our mission in Iraq, our mission in Libya. And the doubts that our members have, frankly, are reflected, they're reflecting what they're hearing from their constituents," Boehner said.

"I said several weeks ago, our members are a bit weary about the amount of money we've spent in Iraq and in Afghanistan and that we're spending in Libya and as a result, really are wondering, what's our vital national security interest there?" Boehner asked.

Boehner's concerns came as a new report warned that billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayers' money may be wasted because of the inability of Iraq and Afghanistan to keep American-financed projects running.

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Filed under: Iraq • Military • U.S.
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. hire iraqis

    why arent they training more Iraqi militants to run the demand in the country.. hmmm i wonder... is it more oil to boost technology that we dont have... or otha terrorist excuse ... or i knoww.. because america cant stand muslims.... unless they are drinking beer like an american or the rest of the world... basically doing wrong..

    June 7, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • step up or shut up

      i think it's safe to assume you are muslim with the comments about beer and hating muslims. if you are in the u.s. then you should probably know by now that americans don't hate muslims, we hate terrorists. at this point, i think we should just pull out and let the country implode and let everybody over there take eachother out. we are still there to ATTEMPT to bring some stability to the country of iraq. i've made friends with iraqis and iraqi military men and we have had no problems if you don't include the language barrier sometimes. stop putting blame on the rest of the world and step up and do something to fix the problems. you can't fix anything by sitting around and complaining.

      June 7, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • SconnieGuz

      Yeah like muslims around the whole world have been behaving like perfect angels towards America and extending olive branches full of pleasantries. You people openly state how much you hate us and then complain when we hate you right back. Perhaps islam needs to try peace for once....won't be waiting for that one. I served in Iraq and made friends with numerous Iraqis that were very nice people. They appreciated what America was trying to do for the middle east. Same with many Afghans. The problem is you people get brainwashed from birth to hate everyone not muslim and your clerics keep pushing the hate. No matter how much blood, treasure and aid we give you people, we still get a spit in the face. So just keep blaming the West for all YOUR problems....that's what you've been doing all along and it hasn't gotten the world ANYWHERE. FIX ISLAM.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. SailorsDoItBetter

    And the best part is that because Iraq is no longer considered a "combat area" soldiers over there no longer receive special pays, like hazardous duty, imminent danger, or combat pay... I think it's time to cut the losses and get everyone the hell out of there....

    June 7, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Knowyourstuffsailor

      Actually SailorsDoItBetter,

      Service Members still receive imminent danger pay and the combat tax exclusion, so maybe you should brush up on the facts before you open your mouth. Service Members were still getting Hazardous Duty and Combat Tax Exclusion pay in Kosovo in '05 (Not sure if they still do) even though they weren't in any danger.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • mejazzbo

      FALSE! But even if it were true we are only talking nickels and dimes compared to the risks of combat.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. mejazzbo

    THEN BRING THEM ALL HOME!!!! Never should have been there in the first place.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  4. I am in awe

    Did somebody actually get paid to write this article. "U.S. forces facing danger in Iraq." Who does not know that? We all know that the supposed purpose of our troops in Iraq now is support and training, but our enemies only see the US uniform and thier enemy! We all know that! It is time to turn over this pit to the people who are supposed to run it. The drain on our treasury just cannot and should not continue. Do not lose one more precious American life to this debacle.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. USMC VET

    We wouldn't lose anybody if we got the hell out of the middle east and stayed out. We have no business there and never had.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. Voltairine

    "U.S. forces still face danger in Iraq": Then bring them home.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. JOE

    Americans have a tendency to accuse muslims of hating westerners and others who are not muslim. But America is a country founded on hate, racism and prejudice. Yea, we have come a long way towards racial justice and equality in America enough to elect an African-American president but yet look at the hate and the contempt being expressed towards the president of the United States each and everyday by the gop and the mainstream media. And if president Obama was white, this double standard would be non existent. And as far as the illegitimate Iraqi war, I believe that the sons and daughters of the gop and the Bush's cabinet should be over there finishing what they started.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • saywhat

      Muslims hating Westerners is a lot of bull & propaganda. vested interests here in America and lobbies have created this myth to advance their own agenda.
      If you travel to Muslim countries you would know that they want our large military boot print out of their lands & stop propping up regimes which are oppressive & corrupt. They just want to be left alone to get on with their lives. What they resent most is our lopsided policy in the Middle East and blind support of Israel on Palestine issue.
      We are turning the population hostile towards us.
      What they see is our troops and armament occupying their land, our military bases spread around that region, our drones & combat aircraft over their sky. Both us and those they are fighting alongside us killing them. And yet we expect them to sing our praises & love us. 100,000 innocent Iraqiu civilians , tens of thousands of Afghans & Pakistanis who had nothing to do with 9/11 attacks in tha past decade. And those really responsible for that crime against America sitting cosily somewhere, thumbing their noses at us secure in the knowledge that they would never be revealed.
      We need to pull out.Find political solutions, stop this military interventionism against which a great American president and a decorated general himself Dwight D.Eisenhower, had warned us back then.
      We need to stand up to false propaganda and those forces spreading hate & fear, polluting our social & political climate.
      We need to do this in the interest of America & Americans.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
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