It was the plan to keep the troops in Iraq past the year-end withdrawal deadline but they have decided to pull the troops fully out by January. When this happens, it will effectively end the more than 8 years of involvement by the United States in the Iraq war. There is still an ongoing concern about the potential for instability and its security forces. The withdrawal deadline of December 31, 2011 was set in 2008 and there have been months of debate on whether to stick with the deadline or negotiate a new security agreement.
The reason that the United States was considering negotiating a new security agreement instead of withdrawal was to make sure that the more than four thousand four hundred American military lives that have been lost and the gains they had made since March 2003 did not go to waste. There has been discussion with the Iraqi leaders about the possibility of leaving several thousand troops there to continue training the security forces of Iraq.
On Saturday it was confirmed by a senior Obama administration official that all of the troops would be leaving Iraq by the year-end withdrawal date except for the one hundred sixty soldiers on active duty that are attached to the United States Embassy. The Baghdad United States Embassy is the largest in the world. Approximately five thousand security contractors and personnel will be given the task of helping to protect American facilities and personnel around the country.