Bin Laden raid leader: Keep commandos in Iraq

Navy Vice Adm. William McRaven testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill June 28, 2011, in Washington. Getty Images

WASHINGTON - The admiral tapped to be the new commander of U.S. special operations forces says a small commando force should remain in Iraq after the end of the year, when all American troops are scheduled to leave.

Vice Adm. William McRaven was a key leader of the U.S. SEAL team operation that killed Osama bin Laden in May. He told a Senate committee Tuesday that while Iraqi leaders have not formally asked for some U.S. troops to remain, it would be "mutually beneficial" to keep some special operations forces there.

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McRaven's nomination to head U.S. Special Operations Command is being considered by the Senate Armed Services Committee. He has spent his career in special operations.

The roughly 46,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are set to leave by year's end.

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On May 1, the night of the raid that killed bin Laden, McRaven gave reports on the mission's status to CIA Director Leon Panetta, who relayed them to President Obama and his top advisers while they waited in the White House Situation Room.

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McRaven was in charge of the mission. His identity has been one of the more lower-ranking ones associated with the mission and its success, something that isn't likely to change given the SEALs' reputation as "the quiet professionals."

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