Gneeral Petraeus Predicts Troop Withdrawal

General Petraeus who is in charge of US troops fighting in Iraq told the Senate Armed Services Committee it might be possible sometime this fall to reduce the size of forces in Iraq by as much as an entire brigade. He said violence had declined to its lowest level in almost four years and there were hopes Iraqi soldiers could assume greater responsibilities in their nation for maintenance of security. General Petraeus is slated to become the nw U.S. Central Command chief while General Ray Odieno replaces him as commandere of Mutli-National Forces-Iraq. After withdrawal of the brigade, General Petraeus expects at least 140,000 troops to remain in Iraq dealing with security issues.

There is no question violence has declined in Iraq, but the uncertain factor is whether militant forces are waiting for some Americans to depart before resuming their attacks on the much less able forces of the Iraq army. Another factor that must be considered is growing concern for the situation in Afghanistan which already has required dispatch of 3,000 Marines for combat roles