The Japanese government decided to finish "the mission of the Air Self-Defence Forces in Iraq by the end of this year," Komura told reporters.It's funny that the agreements being reached with Iraq to keep forces in the country are called SFAs (Aussies use that term to mean "Sweet F*ck All", or in other words, "nothing"):
The decision ends all Japanese military operations in Iraq.
Q A couple of questions involving the President's meeting with President Talabani today. How much of his decision to order a fairly conservative troop withdrawal from Iraq was determined by the fact that the coalition of the willing will all but cease to exist next year? And just exactly how many members of the coalition do you expect to negotiate their own SFAs with Iraq?Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
MS. PERINO: I don't know how many, and I'll let the Iraqis, or MNFI address that. I don't know how many. But there will certainly be many countries that have already announced that they're going to be ending their operations in Iraq this year. They're basically able to do that because of the success that we've had working with them, and because of the President's decision to send in more troops and to fundamentally change our approach, in terms of protecting the population and making sure that we did not lose Baghdad.
The President's decisions about troop levels were based on the recommendations from the Department of Defense, who I'm sure took into account all of the other aspects of the conditions on the ground, including how many other coalition members would be there.
Q Meaning that we're going to have to cover for a number of other countries?
MS. PERINO: I actually think that we're able to make the -- we're able to bring back troops based on success because of the success that we've had. Other countries have already said that they were going to be scaling back operations. And as you heard President Bush say yesterday, we're very thankful for all that they've done. We knew that we were going to be in Iraq for a longer period of time. There are some countries that will continue to be there, but I don't have a list in front of me, I'll let MNFI announce it.
Q Are you suggesting we're not going to have to replace the troops that other countries withdraw?
MS. PERINO: You'd have to ask DOD. I don't think so.
Q Okay. When the President talks to President Talabani today --
MS. PERINO: I mean, I should just say that doesn't mean necessarily that they wouldn't move troops around to certain places where they think they might need them if countries pull back their troops, or if they need security training for forces. I don't know.