General Petraeus told Congress in his second day of testimony that”A premature withdrawal of our forces would likely have devastating consequences.” He discussed the possibility of withdrawing fifteen to twenty combat brigades by next summer. However, he did not really get into reality of what happens when fifteen or twenty combat brigades are no longer present in Iraq. Unless Iraqi troops can step in and assume tasks being done by those American soldiers, the remaining members of the US military operation will have to assume responsibility for what they were doing in combat operations.
The entire Petraeus presentation centers around assumptions regarding how quickly Iraqi soldiers can take over combat operations. On one hand, Petraeus lacks confidence at this moment of Iraqi forces but somehow he assumes by next summer they will be performing at a different level. What happens if they are not? Will the fifteen to twenty combat brigades return to Iraq?