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. US plans to reassign thousands of troops in Iraq to training missions: report
WASHINGTON (AFP) Feb 02, 2005
US military commanders plan to reassign thousands of US troops in Iraq to advise and train Iraqi military units, taking a calculated risk in the ongoing offensive against insurgents, The New York Times said Wednesday quoting US military officials.

The long-term goal of putting Iraqis in charge of their own security warranted the short-term gamble of easing up on the anti-insurgent offensive mounted ahead of Sunday's vote in Iraq, the officials said.

The plan is to transfer up to a brigade, or about 5,000 soldiers, into the training role, they said, adding that many more would be assigned adviser jobs.

To compensate in the loss of fighting power, one officer said, commanders intend to put the Iraqi units they train in the field. "It will be a process of 'train-fight-train,'" he said.

Sunday's elections for a constitutional assembly in Iraq have led to calls from some US lawmakers for an exit strategy in the nearly two-year military occupation of the country. Both the White House and the Iraqi leadership have ruled out an immediate pullout, but Iraqi President Ghazi Al-Yawar said Tuesday US forces could start to leave by the end of the year.

There are about 170,000 foreign troops in Iraq, with about 150,000 Americans, who led the March 2003 invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.

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