US talking Iraq troop reductionsSo who's cutting and running now, beeyatch?
By JoAnne Allen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States may not need the number of troops it has in Iraq "all that much longer," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said amid reports the Pentagon may pull back three combat brigades.
With political pressure building on U.S. President George W. Bush to shift course in Iraq, U.S. officials are trying to reassure Americans that sufficient progress is being made in training Iraqi forces to possibly permit some U.S. troops to leave.
"I suspect that American forces are not going to be needed in the numbers that they're there for all that much longer, because Iraqis are continuing to make progress in function, not just in numbers, but in their capabilities to do certain functions," Rice told CNN on Tuesday.
She said "the number of coalition forces is clearly going to come down because Iraqis are making it possible now to do those functions themselves."
Rice's comments come after a bitter debate on Capitol Hill about Bush's Iraq policy, including a demand by one of the most hawkish members of the U.S. Congress, Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, that U.S. forces withdraw immediately.
The Washington Post said on Wednesday that barring any major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades, from 18 now, but to keep at least one brigade "on call" in Kuwait in case more troops are needed quickly.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Posted by Carl at 11/23/2005 09:34:00 AM