In the midst of ear-splitting explosions, the Iraqi coalition originally forged between 38 countries has dwindled to one, a coalition of one – the U.S.A.
With most of the media attention focused on health-care reform and the sky-rocketing U.S. deficit, little attention was paid to Iraq as the last of the 2003 coalition members withdrew, leaving the Americans to go it alone.
The U.S., as the leader of Multi-National Force, maintains roughly the same level of troop strength in Iraq as when President Obama took office. Mr. Obama campaigned aggressively on a pledge to bring the American troops home, however many of the troops who did leave Iraq were sent to participate in Obama’s Afghanistan surge, which by all reports is not going well for the Americans and coalition troops there.
At its height, the coalition numbered about 300,000 soldiers from 38 countries - 250,000 from the United States, about 40,000 from Britain, and the rest ranging from 2,000 Australians to 70 Albanians. But most of the United States' traditional European allies, those who supported actions in Afghanistan and the previous Iraq war, sat it out, according to an AP report published Aug. 1.
According to an AFP report, a US military spokesman declined to specify the total number of American soldiers who would be left in Iraq after a combat brigade departs next month. Multi-National Forces-Iraq, the name of the military command of the US-led coalition that invaded Iraq in 2003, will be changed next year as no other countries have troops stationed in the country, a US military spokesman said Sunday.
After the departure of British, Romanian and Australian troops last month, the remaining 130,000-odd American troops are now the only foreign force in MNF-I.
Meanwhile, violence has sharply escalated in the war-torn country since President Bush ordered a surge that brought relative calm and a plummeting death toll for all factions.
As quietly as the coalition left the Americans alone in Iraq, President Obama ordered a surge in Afghanistan just after taking office. But the Taliban continue to maintain a presence in the region and now Obama is quietly building on the last surge, sending thousands more troops into Afghanistan.