By John T. Bennett - 09/07/11 09:02 PM EDT
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 LevinThe Fed and a return to banking simplicity What Our presidential candidates can learn from Elmo Zumwalt Will there be a 50-50 Senate next year? MORE (D-Mich.) told reporters he is “not concerned” that leaving 3,000 U.S. troops there into next year “is too small.”
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.