Worth noting in discussions of withdrawing troops from Iraq: US special operations forces (SOFs) are not part of that reduction. In fact, their numbers may be increasing.
That's good news, if the mix of forces in Iraq tilts more in the direction of the SOFs. While unconventional warfare as waged by the SOFs is not necessarily the same thing as counterinsurgency, the SOFs have a better track record of understanding and contributing to counterinsurgency campaigns than many conventional units.
Unfortunately, US troop levels will not return to pre-escalation levels. The numbers will still be 8,000 soldiers higher than in January 2007. The strain on the Army and Marines remains, as does the strategic vacuum at the theater level.