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August 18, 2007
Iraq Troop Drawdown Likely Next Year
The Administration is planning on a gradual withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq but at levels and at a speed far below that desired by Congressional Democrats:
The White House plans to use a report next month assessing progress in Iraq to outline a plan for gradual troop reductions beginning next year that would fall far short of the drawdown demanded by Congressional opponents of the war, according to administration and military officials. The White House will unveil the new plan after General Petreaus gives his report to Congress in the middle of next month. The President is banking on encouraging news from Petreaus to extend the surge until March of next year.
One administration official made it clear that the goal of the planned announcement was to counter public pressure for a more rapid reduction and to try to win support for a plan that could keep American involvement in Iraq on “a sustainable footing” at least through the end of the Bush presidency.
After March, the surge will not be sustainable due to necessary troop rotations which will mean around 30,000 less soldiers in Iraq. The goal by then is to have considerably improved the security situation so that the drawdown won't undermine the Iraqi government in their efforts at political reconcilation.
Meanwhile, another Democrat came out in favor of giving General Petreaus more time to make the surge a success. Representative Brian Baird (D-WA), an original opponent of the war, has just come back from Iraq and said he will support giving Petreaus more time. Baird cites the importance that a stable Iraq is to American interests as the main reason for his switch.