October 15th, 2011
06:40 PM ET

U.S. combat brigade to leave Iraq well ahead of schedule

A brigade of U.S. troops originally scheduled to be among the very last to leave Iraq is being pulled out of the country months ahead of its planned departure, military officials said Saturday.

The announcement follows news this month that a deal to keep American troops in Iraq past a December 31, 2011, deadline to withdraw was on shaky ground after Iraqi leadership said any remaining U.S. forces would not be granted immunity from Iraqi prosecution. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and other top brass have repeatedly said any deal to keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the withdrawal deadline must require a guarantee of legal protection for American soldiers.

The Fourth Brigade Combat Team, First Armored Division, based at Fort Bliss, deployed to Iraq in August to replace two withdrawing brigades. The troops were sent with the understanding they would be among the last to leave the country and were told to expect up to a 12-month deployment, though it wasn't clear how long they would stay in Iraq. But brigade officials informed hundreds of military families gathered Saturday at its headquarters that their troops would begin returning home within weeks.

When family members inquired why soldiers were returning early, they were told by a military official: "Basically, what's happened ... is that the United States and Iraq have not come to an agreement," according to a CNN reporter who attended the meeting.

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Filed under: Iraq • Military • U.S. Army
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. s kel


    October 16, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©


    Ony *half* a stalk?
    Must be losing my touch.
    Thanks, Gomez! 😉

    October 16, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. chrissy

    @ jeff frank...i hope you were NOT callin me a tea partier lol good morning banasy, lee

    October 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jp

    You guys have no idea what a great news this is. A couple of months ago we had to say goodbye to my husband as he left
    for his second tour to Irak. When I hugged him and closed my eyes all I could hear in the background was people crying and to hear this news is awesome.May God Bless and protect our men and women and bring them back home safe.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
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