Bear in mind that the number of troops in the Iraqi theater includes those in adjoining and nearby countries. According to the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO), “The US occupation forces in the Iraqi theater has required about 16 to 18 combat brigades, or 160,000 to 180,000 personnel.” From the viewpoint of being able to sustain US forces in Iraq, a withdrawal can’t come soon enough. According to the CBO, the US military can sustain 67,000 to 106,000 personnel in Iraq over the long term.
Another difference is that to a far greater degree than was the case in 1991, the US military has outsourced its logistics functions to the private sector. Companies like Halliburton and its Kellog, Brown and Root subsidiary will have to coordinate with the military to an unprecedented degree, through the Logistics Civilian Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), which Halliburton was re-awarded in 2001.
US forces will also have to assist allied military forces in redeploying their forces.
Just getting troops to an embarkation point will be challenging. An article earlier this year in Army Logistician noted, “During Operation Iraqi Freedom II, thousands of vehicles traveled over the dangerous roads of Iraq daily to transport supplies to more than 20,000 soldiers at 28 forward operating bases (FOBs). These FOBs were geographically dispersed over an area of 146,000 square kilometers in the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) area of operations (AO).”
According to Chris Preble, director of foreign policy studies at the Washington, DC-based Cato Institute, “The rule of thumb is three to four months to physically withdraw the troops. This assumes an orderly withdrawal, no one under fire. Maintaining an over-the-horizon presence makes the problem only slightly less onerous, as we have substantial bases in Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.” ~David Isenberg, Asia Times