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August 15, 2007

Petraeus To Recommend Troop-Cuts, *But* Apparently After A Year Or So

Not sure if this is good news, bad news, or just attempting to achieve as much as is politically plausible (a continued large presence in Iraq for a longish but not indefinite period of time).

Smart or foolish? Guess we have to dance with the girl that brung us. He seems to know what he's doing.

The top American commander in Iraq said Wednesday he was preparing recommendations on troop cuts before he returns to Washington next month for a report to Congress, and believes the U.S. footprint in Iraq will have to be "a good bit smaller" by next summer. [Emphasis added.]

But he cautioned against a quick or significant U.S. withdrawal that could surrender "the gains we have fought so hard to achieve."

...

Petraeus listened intently as the so-called Freedom Fighters' 40-year-old leader, who uses the nom-de-guerre Abu Abed, explained his transformation and said he switched sides because al-Qaida was ravaging the neighborhood and trying to impose its austere version of Islam.

Members of the neighborhood volunteer army milled about, U.S.-supplied pistols strapped to their hips and AK-47 automatic rifles at the ready. Petraeus reviewed a short line of the auxiliary force and shook hands with each man.

...

Petraeus, who wrote the Army's book on counterinsurgency, said he and his staff were "trying to do the battlefield geometry right now" as he prepared his troop-level recommendations.

"We know that the surge has to come to an end, there's no question about that. I think everyone understands that by about a year or so from now we've got to be a good bit smaller than we are right now.

"The question is how do you do that ... so that you can retain the gains we have fought so hard to achieve and so you can keep going. Again we are not at all satisfied where we are right now. We have made some progress but again there's still a lot of hard work to be done against the different extremist elements that do threaten the new Iraq."

Perhaps is idea is to throw a sop to the anti-war movement by promising a reduction in a year or so (maybe beginning in nine more months), while using the surge-troops and additional troops redeployed from now pacified area in a long final blitz against Al Qaeda -- and Sadr.

If so, he's actually buying an additional nine months or year of the current, apparently-effective troop strength.


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posted by Ace at 05:50 PM

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