Some U.S. Combat Troops To Be Reclassified

In-depth Report:

The U.S-Iraq agreement calls for the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq cities by June, but officials say many will remain as reclassified personnel.

Military planners acknowledge many will be renamed “trainers” and “advisers” in what officials told The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) are essentially combat roles.

“Trainers sometimes do get shot at, and they do sometimes have to shoot back,” said John A. Nagl, a retired lieutenant colonel and one of the authors of the U.S. Army’s new counterinsurgency field manual.

The issue could cause difficulties for President-elect Barack Obama, who must meld three deadlines — the June deadline, the May 2010 date he spoke of during his campaign and the December 2011 deadline in the status-of-forces agreement under which all U.S. troops must pull out of the country, the Times reported Monday.

To try to meet those deadlines without risking Iraq’s tenuous stability, military officials said they would reassign combat troops to train and support Iraqis, adding that the troops would be armed and go on combat patrols with their Iraqi counterparts.

“If you’re in combat, it doesn’t make any difference whether you’re an adviser; you’re risking your life,” said Andrew Krepinevich, a military expert at the research group Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “The bullets don’t have ‘adviser’ stenciled on some and ‘combat unit’ on another.”

Including service and support personnel, roughly 146,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq. (c) UPI

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