Obama Officials: US Will ‘Almost Certainly’ Keep Troops in Iraq Past 2011

By Jason Ditz

Troops

Despite top Obama Administration officials insisting that the Iraq War is already “over,” combat operations in the nation continue. But at least the “end of 2011″ deadline for a full pullout is set in stone, right?

Not so, apparently, as a growing number of US officials are privately acknowledging that the US will “almost certainly” keep a significant number of troops in Iraq past the deadline, which was negotiated in the Status of Forces Agreement.
 
The subject hasn’t so much been broached with the American public, where the official story that the war ended at some point in the past couple of weeks is still playing remarkably well, but it seems there is a growing resignation to this, at least privately.
 
Last week top US commanders predicted that the next Iraqi government, whenever it actually is formed, would officially ask the US to stay, and they insist that Iraq’s military is “unsustainable” without US troops.
 
That’s supposed to be a “support” role, but on a number of occasions, including today in Baghdad, that role is including open combat missions for the so-called “non-combat” troops. And while officials say the post-2011 force would likely be “limited” in size, it will be supplanted by a massive army of State Department security contractors, and taking part in combat whenever the opportunity presents itself.
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