Pentagon: 140,000 troops in Iraq, 32,000 in Afghanistan after July

WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (KUNA) — A senior Pentagon official said late Monday the US expects to keep 140,000 troops in Iraq after the withdrawal of five combat brigades in July, roughly 8,000 US troops more than pre-surge levels.

Lieutenant General Carter Hamm, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Pentagon briefing that the number of US forces in Afghanistan is expected to increased to an record-high of about 32,000 troops by late summer, up from 28,000 troops currently stationed there.

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Hamm said, “In Iraq we are now projecting approximately 140,000 troops there in July, down from the 144,000 previously projected, but still it is bigger than when we started the surge,” last January he said.

“There is a full expectation that further reductions will occur” in troop levels, Ham said, but it was “premature” to talk about “timing and pace” of a possible drawdown in US troop levels.
There were 132,000 troops in Iraq prior to the troop surge President George W. Bush ordered the “surge” of 30,000 more troops in an effort to reduce violence and help bring about political reconciliation in rival parties.

The US ordered a drawdown of five brigades, roughly 20,000 troops, by this summer.
“This will be very much conditions-based but that’s our projection of the day,” cautioned Hamm.
Top defense officials, General David Patreaus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have endorsed the idea of a pause in drawdown levels after this summer, following the drawdown.