Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Petraeus Says Troop Reduction On Track
John J. Kruzel at American Forces Press Service reports:
Plans to withdraw four Army brigade combat teams and two Marine battalions by July are “on track” as the military seeks to draw down the number of troops in Iraq as quickly as ground conditions allow.
Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, appeared on CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, and said this will reduce the number by one quarter, or 42,500 troops. In regards to reductions after that the General said, “The guidance that (Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates) in fact has given me -- and the president and my chain of command, what all of them have said -- is that reductions after July should be conditions-based.”
In regards to Iraqi security forces’ capability, Petraeus said the roughly 550,000-strong force is assuming an increasingly larger role in maintaining the country’s security. The overall forces -- composed of some 343,000 police members, 208,000 defense ministry soldiers and 4,000 special operations forces -- suffer nearly three times the number of U.S military casualties, which Petraeus said indicated the Iraqis’ devotion to stability in their country.
Officials have stated that reductions of U.S. forces in Iraq depend largely on an Iraqi security force that is capable of tamping down violence in the country. Petraeus today noted that half of Iraq’s 18 provinces currently are under provincial control, but pointed out that Iraq’s security institutions face challenges in breeding military leaders and in equipping and maintaining the current forces.
“(Leadership) is the area that is probably the most difficult, because you just can't find captains, colonels, and generals out there in the numbers that they need by just going back to those who are willing to serve from the old army -- not all of whom, perhaps, have the qualities that one would want in the leadership of the new Iraq army anyway,” Petraeus said. (read the full story at DefenseLink.mil)
Not everyone at the Pentagon is happy with this plan, as well as Senate leaders. And how could we forget the "General Betray Us" ad?
But the General says the plan has solid military backing.