Military command wants Iraq troops cut by nearly half
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to tell President Bush to cut the US footprint in Iraq next year by almost half, according to an article in Friday's (registration-restricted) LA Times.
Officials say Marine Gen. Peter Pace will convey concerns by the chiefs that keeping in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq into 2008 will "severely strain" the US armed forces.
This assessment, the paper says, may sow discord with top Bush officials and Bush's top commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, who continue to push for more troops.
Interestingly, Pace, who was appointed by President Bush, will not be reappointed when his term comes up in September.
Petraeus will likely back the White House view that a continued surge is required to produce "political progress" in Iraq.
"Pace's recommendations reflect the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who initially expressed private skepticism about the strategy ordered by Bush and directed by Petraeus, before publicly backing it," according to the Times.
"Any discord among the top U.S. generals could be awkward for Bush, who professes to rely heavily on advice from military leaders," the paper continues. "But there also is tremendous pressure for military officers to speak with one voice and defer to Petraeus and other field commanders. It remains possible that the Joint Chiefs may opt to weaken their stance before approaching Bush.
"According to a senior administration official, the Joint Chiefs in recent weeks have pressed concerns that the Iraq war has degraded the U.S. military's ability to respond, if needed, to other threats, such as Iran," the Times reporters add.
Read the full story at the LA Times