White House discussing troop withdrawals in Iraq
The White House and Pentagon officials have been discussing “concepts” to reduce the level of troops in Iraq by up to 50% and leaving a force of about 100,000 in Iraq by Mid 2008. The highest officials in the Bush administration that seem to be supporting these notions are Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
The current troop level surge does seem to be working but, at the same time attacks have been increased by insurgents. Also some reports have come out saying that Iran is stepping up its support of insurgents in Iraq in order to counter and maybe discredit the troop surge. Ultimately the troop level surge will be reviewed in the fall by the Congress and White House.
President Bush referred to the Iraqi Study Group’s Report four times in his Thursday press conference. The Iraq Study Group was led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. Interestingly enough the Iraq Study Group calls for most of the U.S Army to have been withdrawn by March 2008.
These “concepts” would not affect the current troop surge or shortly there after but, may be planned shortly after the new year. The new troop level would focus on training and supporting the Iraqi Security Forces.
The hope of the withdrawals by the Bush Administration would be to lessen the political pressure by both Democrats and Republicans who would like to withdraw sooner rather than later from Iraq and hopefully change the political talk from short-term withdrawal to long-term influence in Iraq and in the region.