Planned Troop Reductions In Iraq

Reduction in U.S. Troops Eyed for ’04 (washingtonpost.com)
I’m sure the troops will be pleased if this actually pans out. It will depend on our ability to get Iraqi security forces trained, I suppose.

I do hope it works out. It will mean we have an end game after more than twelve years of engagement in Iraq.

U.S. military commanders have developed a plan to steadily cut back troop levels in Iraq next year, several senior Army officers said in recent interviews.

There are now 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The plan to cut that number is well advanced and has been described in broad outline to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld but has not yet been approved by him. It would begin to draw down forces next spring, cutting the number of troops to fewer than 100,000 by next summer and then to 50,000 by mid-2005, officers involved in the planning said.

The plan, which amounts to being the first formal military exit strategy for Iraq, is designed to show how the U.S. presence might be reduced without undercutting the stability of the country. Military officials worry that if they do not begin cutting the size of the U.S. force, they could damage troop morale, leave the armed forces shorthanded if crises emerge in North Korea and elsewhere, and help create a long-term personnel shortage in the service.

At the same time, some of the people involved in the discussions said they consider the force reduction plan optimistic, as much a goal as a guaranteed outcome.

If it is implemented successfully, the troop reductions could reduce political pressure on the Bush administration as the presidential campaign gets fully underway.

It’s obviously politically motivated. I saw the press corp shaking down Donald Rumsfeld the other day about troop morale and he was definitely on the defensive.

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