Top US commanders differ on Iraq pullout: report

Top Pentagon generals and US military commanders in Iraq are engaged in a behind-the-scenes debate about how fast and deep US troop reduction in Iraq should be, The New York Times reported on its website .

Top US commanders differ on Iraq pullout: report
Citing unnamed administration officials, the newspaper said commanders in the field favor slow reductions while senior generals at the Pentagon favor cutting the number of combat troops more deeply.

General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General George Casey, the Army chief of staff, are said to be leaning toward a recommendation that steep reductions by the end of 2008, perhaps to half of the 20 combat brigades now in Iraq, should be the administration’s goal, the report said.

Such a drawdown would be deeper and faster than General David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, is expected to recommend next month, according to The Times.


"If you’re out in Baghdad you might have a different priority for where you want the troops," the paper quotes an administration official as saying.

It has been known since the spring that the White House was considering options for reducing combat forces in Iraq by almost half in 2008, which could bring overall troop levels below 100,000, the report said.

But the shape of the debate is only beginning to emerge.

President George W. Bush will have to weigh whether such steep reductions in 2008, even if cast only as a goal, would risk eroding what a new National Intelligence Estimate has described as measurable but fragile security gains achieved in Iraq in recent months, The Times said.

A Pentagon official who supports a sharp drawdown described the steep troop reductions as "what we’re shooting for, our initial goal," the paper said.

The official said a drawdown to roughly 10 brigades would enable the Army to give many soldiers at least a year at home for every year they are deployed, an objective of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, according to the report.

Most soldiers are now serving 15 months in Iraq and get a year or less at home.



AFP
Last Mod: 26 Ağustos 2007, 11:42
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