U.S. forces and equipment are expected to leave Iraq by Dec. 31, Army Brig. Gen. Bradley A. Becker said during a Nov. 22 "DOD Live" Bloggers Roundtable.
Becker is the deputy commanding general for U.S. Division Center, Baghdad. He is responsible for oversight, support and sustainment for U.S. forces participating in Operation New Dawn.
According to Becker, the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment from Iraq is being accomplished in accordance with agreements made between the United States and Iraq.
The amount of equipment and property that had accumulated on U.S. bases in Iraq over the years has been significant, Becker said. At the height of coalition operations in 2007 and 2008, he said, there were 505 bases and 165,000 service members in Iraq.
As of this month, Becker said, seven bases remain to be transferred to Iraqi authority and less than 20,000 U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq.
Every U.S. base in Iraq that's slated for drawdown gets three environmental inspections, Becker said. This, he said, includes an initial inspection, a follow-up inspection, and a final inspection to ensure no waste or hazardous materials are left unaccounted for.
Over the past eleven months, he added, 27 U.S. bases have been transferred, and all of those bases have gone through an environmental remediation process. The final seven bases, Becker said, have processed through two of the three required environmental inspections.
Becker said he's confident that Iraq's security forces will be up to the challenge after U.S. forces depart. Iraq's security forces "have been in the lead since Operation New Dawn ... they have shown that they are capable," he said. "They did it during the elections. They did it during the Arab Spring."
Becker spoke of the positive changes he has witnessed in Iraq.
"As I look back on the last nearly nine years of what we've accomplished," he said, "the one thing that really stands out -- at least for me -- is that we've given the Iraqi people opportunities that they didn't have in the past: the opportunity to choose their own government, a developing economy that benefits all the Iraqi people and, most importantly, an opportunity for a better future."
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