Iraq’s top political leaders agreed late Tuesday that the Iraqi military needs to continue training programs with U.S. forces, marking the first step in a process that still could take months to resolve.
Iraqi and U.S. officials cautioned Wednesday that the country’s precarious political and security situation could yet derail efforts to resolve the issue before the roughly 46,000 U.S. troops in Iraq leave as scheduled by Dec. 31.
Prolonging a final decision could turn the issue into a “physics problem” for the U.S. military if it is pressed to decide which forces and equipment need to stay too close to year’s end, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday in Iraq.
Significant details that remain unresolved include the length and focus of any training program, how many U.S. troops such training might require and how Iraqi leaders would formally request and approve a new partnership. Mullen and his colleagues also want legal immunity for any troops who stay behind.
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