Under the 2011 US-Iraq Status of Forces agreement, the US is prohibited from deploying more than 3,870 troops within Iraqi territory at any given time. Notwithstanding the agreement, the Pentagon has conceded in recent days that there are over 5,000 troops presently stationed in Iraq. The Pentagon justifies those 5,000 as being less than 3,870, as the extra troops are “temporary.”
The high US deployment numbers came to light after Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren conceded that 200 US Marines were stationed at Firebase Bell, with many more throughout the northern region of Iraq, but claimed that these troops don’t count because of their temporary status.
The disclosure came following the battlefield death of a US marine on March 19, 2016, who was not initially included in US troop figures.
The Pentagon has made abundantly clear that the use of the term “temporary” does not suppose an imminent drawdown of these troops. Rather, Pentagon officials have confirmed that there is no scheduled end date for their operation, saying that temporary troops will remain until there is an “enduring solution.”
Defense analysts speculate that the “temporary” label has been artificially added to recent troop deployments to keep the nominally reported number of troops capped at 3,870.
However, as the US continues to add troops to repel repeated incursions by Daesh in Northern Iraq, it is thought that the US may be compelled to renegotiate the Status of Forces arrangement.