Sunday, June 25, 2006

U.S. General in Iraq Outlines Troop Cuts - New York Times

U.S. General in Iraq Outlines Troop Cuts - New York Times: "The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.

According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007.

Under the plan, the first reductions would involve two combat brigades that would rotate out of Iraq in September without being replaced. Military officials do not typically characterize reductions by total troop numbers, but rather by brigades. Combat brigades, which generally have about 3,500 troops, do not make up the bulk of the 127,000-member American force in Iraq, and other kinds of units would not be pulled out as quickly.

American officials emphasized that any withdrawals would depend on continued progress, including the development of competent Iraqi security forces, a reduction in Sunni Arab hostility toward the new Iraqi government and the assumption that the insurgency will not expand beyond Iraq's six central provinces. Even so, the projected troop withdrawals in 2007 are more significant than many experts had expected.

General Casey's briefing has remained a closely held secret, and it was described by American officials who agreed to discuss the details only on condition of anonymity. Word of the plan comes after a week in which the American troop presence in Iraq was stridently debated in Congress, with Democratic initiatives to force troop withdrawals defeated in the Senate."

This is good news, but I thought we weren't going to plan to cut and run?


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