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US Papers Tue: "Absolutely Committed"
320 U.S. Military Bases Left in Iraq, Unspecified Number of Troops
By DANIEL W. SMITH 06/16/2009 01:55 AM ET
A Baghdad press conference with Gen. Odierno got most of the ink today. The pullout of cities is on track he said, even in less-than-idyllic Mosul, but there isn’t a great deal of new data to sink one’s teeth into. Also, the British government is about to go ahead with a wide-ranging inquiry into the country’s role in the Iraq war.

From Baghdad
Another day, another press conference. This one garnered almost all the Iraq coverage today. The headlines say that US troops are on their way out of the cities in a few weeks, but the following two paragraphs from Nada Bakri’s piece in the Washington Post has most of what you need to know.
Odierno said that he is still "absolutely committed" to leaving all urban areas on schedule but added that a number of troops will remain in Iraqi cities as advisers and trainers to work with Iraqi security forces. He did not specify how many troops would remain or where they would be based.

"We will not get into any specific numbers, but it is a very small number," he said. Odierno said 320 U.S. military bases remain in Iraq, down from 460, but he did not specify how many of them were in Iraqi cities.
The Christian Science Monitor’s Jane Arraf focuses on the fact that Odierno was two hours late to his own press conference because, according to government spokesman Al- al-Dabbagh, "We apologize for being late – the American general needed permission to enter the building.” Whether true or not, even the notion of such a statement would have been unthinkable a year ago, and does demonstrate steps in the Iraqi government's confidence and management of their own affairs. If even American soldiers (and a general at that) are subject to Iraq’s famous bureaucracy, this is indeed progress.

Arraf also writes that Iraq’s security forces will still be dependent on US air power, but at the end, gives a few details which give a small window into Iraqi security.
The rare press conference by Odierno with Iraqi leaders was held under intensely tight security, reflecting the persistent threat to Iraqi government officials and Baghdad's still fragile security. Baghdad's Green Zone is now secured on the outer perimeters by Iraqi forces and inside by Peruvian guards contracted to a private American security firm. After exhaustive searches in the 110-degree F. heat to enter the Green Zone, reporters told to show up two hours in advance were put through a series of other checks.

At the last entry point to the government press center, security guards placed banned cellphones and tape recorders for safekeeping next to dozens of pistols checked by their owners.
In the Wall Street Journal, Gina Chon writes about the press conference, pointing out that “about 130,000 coalition troops in Iraq now, compared with 160,000 forces this past September”, and that “U.S. troops remaining in urban areas after June 30 are to focus on noncombat-related roles, such as training and advising.” She gives some basic coverage of the upcoming British inquiry into its involvement in the Iraq war had been approved by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and would start next month.

John F. Burns in the New York Times dedicates an article to the long-delayed British inquiry, calling the issue one “that has caused deep political divisions and protest since American and British troops overran the country in 2003.” (Overran? Fairly bold for an opening sentence.)

That the panel would hold its hearings behind closed doors brought condemnation by vocal opponents of the war, “as well as from the Conservative opposition, which supported the war originally but has become harshly critical of its conduct.” Burns paints a picture of what government inquiries can often become – too far for some, yet really intended to leave most feathers mostly unruffled.

“If mistakes were made, we need to know who made them, and why they were made,” said David Cameron, leader of the opposition Conservatives. For his part, Brown said that, while seeking to identify “lessons learned” from the war, it would “not set out to apportion blame or consider issues of civil or criminal liability.”

USA Today, no original Iraq coverage.

Comments on the US Papers roundup are welcome at ds@iraqslogger.com.


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