Powell: Troops to begin going home this year
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Updated: 1:36 p.m. ET Jan. 12, 2005

U.S. troops will begin leaving Iraq this year as the Iraqi army, national guard and police force take on a larger security role, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview released Wednesday by the State Department.

Powell would not give a definite timetable for the troops’ withdrawal in the interview, conducted Tuesday with National Public Radio, “but with the money we’re putting into the growth of the new Iraqi army and national guard and police force, I believe that during 2005 they will be able to assume a greater burden, and with the assumption of that greater burden, the burden on our troops should go down, and we should start to see our numbers going in the other direction.”

There are about 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, many of them under fire, and casualties have been mounting. Powell said allowing some U.S. forces to head home would not worsen the situation there, however.

“The issue now is not more American troops or coalition troops for the long haul, but more Iraqi troops for the long haul, and that’s where all of our resources and energy are now going,” he said.