Petraeus Now Claims Force Reduction Will Occur

General Petraeus told Military Times editors there would be a reduction in the number of troops in Iraq as a result of reducing the number of troops in certain areas. “The concept is to thin our forces out rathr than to hand off.” His plan is to retain small outposts of cmbat soldieers by improving the security of these bases which he hopes would allow reduction in the number of troops in Iraq to about 120,000 by the fall. An important component of the plan is to use brigade headquarters as the transition point from emphasizing military operations to one in which there is also a shift to local projects that will ensure stability. This interview took place after General Petraeus attempted, with limited success, to sell his ideas to a rather skeptical Congress.

Secretary of Defense Gates and Petraeus told Congress there was need for a pause in order to evaluate the possibility of reducing the number of troops in Iraq but in this interview the Iraq war commander apparently has plans for reducing the number of troops. Some Democratic senators were concerned at the use of the word “reversible” which appears to reflect the fragility of “success” of the surge. They are concerned about the rise in casualties during recent days which witnessed the most bloody week in Iraq in months and the loss of 19 American lives as well as woundng of dozens.

Geneeral Petaeus told Congress, “we haven’t turned any corners. We haven’t seen any lights at the end of the tunnel, the champagne bottle has been pushed to the back of the refrigerator.” His metaphor reflect a basic problem with the Petraeus report. “Victory” in Iraq is more of an economic/political change than a military solution. As of this point there has not been much, if any, of an improvement in the political situation in Iraq.