During his speech on the Arab Spring in May, President Obama talked about shifting America's "foreign policy following a decade defined by two costly conflicts." Reports today suggest Obama is doing just that, at least in terms of military deployment. During an appearance at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Tuesday, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will fall from 44,500 to 30,000 by the end of September as part of a 2008 plan to withdraw all American soldiers from Iraq by the end of this year (Obama has a separate timetable for the withdrawal of the 100,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan).
In a separate report today, the AP, citing unnamed U.S. and Pakistani officials, reveals that the U.S. and Pakistan have struck a deal to slash the number of U.S. forces in Pakistan in half to between 100 and 150, and to reduce the number of special operations trainers in the country from 140 to fewer than 10. The AP adds, however, that the pact may stem as much from souring U.S.-Pakistani relations as it does from any U.S. desire to reduce its military footprint in the Middle East. "The presence of U.S. forces inside Pakistan is highly unpopular there," the AP notes, and "became more so following the U.S. military raid inside Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden." But the report adds that "allowing any elite trainers to stay suggests a bit of a thaw in the icy relationship. Only a few months ago Pakistan demanded that all the trainers as well as other U.S. forces leave the country."