12,000 U.S. troops headed home from Iraq by fall

12,000 U.S. troops and 4,000 members of the British armed forces will return home over course of the next six months, per the recommendation of Multinational Forces in Iraq, Army Gen. Raymond Odierno.

The drawdown reflects part of the Obama administration's announced strategy to reduce the U.S. presence in Iraq to 30,000-50,000 by mid-2010.

The military will not replace two brigades after their scheduled departure from Iraq, the Department of Defense announced Sunday, along with an F-16 squadron that recently returned from the country.

"The time and conditions are right for coalition forces to reduce the number of troops in Iraq," Odierno said. "The successful provincial elections demonstrated the increased capability of the Iraqi army and police to provide security. In the coming months, Iraqis will see the number of U.S. forces go down in the cities, while more and more Iraqi flags will go up at formerly shared security stations."

Some Democratic lawmakers have levied mild criticism toward the administration for its Iraq policy, arguing that a smaller residual force should be left in place than the one planned by Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) had said she "would think a third of that, maybe 20,000, a little more than a third, 15,000 or 20,000" would be an appropriate number of troops to leave in place before the administration formally announced its plan.

12 brigades will remain in Iraq after the exit of the other two.