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The U.S. military "will not abandon" the "Sons of Iraq" and will make sure they are getting paid and have jobs after the transition to Iraqi control, the second-highest ranking U.S. commander in Iraq said Monday.

In a briefing with the Pentagon press corps, Multi-National Corps — Iraq commander Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin said that of the 99,000 "Sons of Iraq," about 20 percent are expected to be folded into the Iraqi police. Others will join the Iraqi Army and the rest are expected to be trained for civilian employment, he said.

Many of the checkpoints now being manned by the "Sons of Iraq" will be taken over by Iraqi security forces, Austin said.

"In some cases, there may be SOI that will be tasked with that work, but in most cases, I think the Iraqi government will be looking to transition people into different types of jobs," he said.

"Initially, it will be slow-going, because the economy is just starting to expand, and not a tremendous amount of jobs available, but that’s one of the things Iraqi government has to work on and we’re going to help them work on it," Austin said. "Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki has assured me that the government will help those who have helped the people of Iraq."


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