Pentagon Mulls Further Troop Reduction in Iraq

With violence down to levels not seen since the beginning of the war, the Pentagon is considering the withdrawal of additional American forces from Iraq beginning in September. This would be in addition to the 30,000 troops already rotated home who were part of the successful "surge" strategy.

Those troops would have had to go home anyway as a result of the reduction in deployments from 15 to 12 months. But the additional troops that the Pentagon is contemplating taking out of Iraq represents the recognition that the situation is slowly stabilizing and that they are needed elsewhere; specifically, Afghanistan.

The new Pakistani government's policy of talking to the Taliban is a spectacular failure. The terrorists are attacking Pakistani targets with impunity while pouring over a border that Pakistan doesn't even bother to pretend is controlled by them. Their assurances to the United States about preventing incursions by the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan aren't worth the breath it took to give them.

As a result, more Americans died in Afghanistan for the last two months than died in Iraq. And NATO still refuses to release more of its troops for combat duty which has placed more of a strain on the US, Great Britain, and most of all our neighbors to the north in Canada.

The Canucks are hard pressed to perform their mission of fighting off the Taliban while carrying on vital reconstruction projects in the Kandahar area. With the help of the Afghan army - who have performed better than expected - as well as some Dutch troops who have joined the fight in the south, the Canadians are more than holding their own. 

But Prime Minister Harper's patience is growing thin with NATO. Germany, France, and other members still refuse to lift restrictions on combat duty for their troops. And with the growing menace of the Taliban, that means that someone else is going to have to supply more troops. Harper has stated that unless help arrives for the Canadians soon, he will seriously consider withdrawing Canada's contingent.

That someone else, is us. And that's one big reason why the contemplated draw down in Iraq is being looked at so seriously. Afghanistan, thanks to Pakistan, is becoming more of a battleground once again.

There are no hard numbers for this possible drawdown but according to the Washington Post, it could include up to 3 brigades by the end of the year. That would still leave around 120,000 troops in Iraq for the next president to make a decision on whether to accelerate the process of withdrawal.

But this time, entering the new president's calculations will be the needs of our forces in Afghanistan.

If you experience technical problems, please write to