Armed Services chairmen diverge on Iraqi troop level reports

The chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services committees split Wednesday on reports the Obama administration is planning to keep 3,000 U.S. troops in Iraq beyond Dec. 31.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinOvernight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden pays tribute to late Sen. Levin: 'Embodied the best of who we are' Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm dead at 85 MORE (D-Mich.) told reporters he is “not concerned” that leaving 3,000 U.S. troops there into next year “is too small.”


Hours later, his House counterpart, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), said more American troops must remain in Iraq to preserve what he sees as a U.S. victory there.

The House Armed Services Committee chairman told reporters during a roundtable session that he has been told by “commanders in the field” that they would prefer keeping “at least 10,000” American troops there “or get everyone out” -- including U.S. diplomats and civilian personnel.

Fox News Channel first reported the 3,000-troops figure on Tuesday, citing administration sources. Pentagon officials have since said no final decisions have been made on possible troop levels.

Levin said he would support keeping U.S. troops there to train Iraqi security forces, conduct counterterrorism missions, and “a unit to prevent Iranian” meddling inside Iraq.