I think this is a good sign. The Iraqi government still needs us there. I can see us keeping a small force of 20 - 30 thousand there. We are paired down to 50 thousand right now. Our troops are not in a lot of danger presently and can serve for training, some security and a rapid reaction force in case they are needed. If we left and the country fell into chaos, that would be truly tragic and a slap in the face to all of those who have sacrificed for this cause.
People should ask themself this. How long did we stay in Germany and Japan after WWII? Oh yeah, we still have a large contingent of forces in and around Japan and we probably have more forces in Germany than Iraq currently. You want to pull troops back? We should not have much troop strength in a place like Germany. What purpose do they serve? If they are a rapid reaction force, where are they a rapid reaction force to? We and our European Allies are no longer in immediate danger from Russia or any of the former Soviet Union.
Your numbers are about right for the next 5 years.
And about 10,000 up to 2020 to provide air defense/training.
Until the PM issued his gag-order last year,
The ISF leadership was consistent in describing the plan:
Phase 1 [2006-2010] Tactical independence.
This is internal security only.
Phase 2 [2011-2015] Operational independence.
This is handing internal security to police primacy while shifting the IMoD services [IA/IQAF/IQN/IQM] to external defense and overwatch of the MoI [IP/FP/OP/DBE/FPS].
Phase 3 [2016-2020] Strategic independence.
This is the ISF standing on its own. The long pole in this is air defense. Iraqs only air defense now is the USAF. They have yet to buy their first jet trainer let alone fighters
This is what the uniformed ISF leadership based its plans on. The 2012 date was pure politics ignoring military requirements...