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August 24, 2007
Pace to Recommend Troop Cuts in Iraq for Next Year
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Peter Pace will recommend to the President that the number of troops in Iraq be brought below 100,000 by the end of next year:
This assessment could collide with one being prepared by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, calling for the U.S. to maintain higher troop levels for 2008 and beyond. Meanwhile, Senator John Warner (R-VA) has called for American troop withdrawals to begin by Christmas.
Petraeus is expected to support a White House view that the absence of widespread political progress in Iraq requires several more months of the U.S. troop buildup before force levels are decreased to their pre-buildup numbers sometime next year.
Pace's recommendations reflect the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who initially expressed private skepticism about the strategy ordered by Bush and directed by Petraeus, before publicly backing it.
According to administration and military officials, the Joint Chiefs believe it is of crucial strategic importance to reduce the size of the U.S. force in Iraq in order to bolster the military's ability to respond to other threats, a view that is shared by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
Interviewed on the PBS Newshour, Warner wants a token withdrawal of 5,000 men to show the Iraqi government that "time is running out." and that the pullback would also show that US commitment to Iraq is not "open ended."
Also, the Secretary of the Army Pete Green ruled out extending tours of duty in Iraq past 15 months. The practical effect of Secretary Green's announcement is that by March of 2008, many of the troops currently participating in the surge will have to be rotated home thus lowering the number of combat soldiers to pre-surge levels.