WaPo reports 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, several senior military officers said.
The operative words there are Barring any major surprises the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades. We are not going to stay any longer than the Iraqi government wants us to stay, but we are not going to abandon them and let the insurgents win, and turn Iraq into a bed of terrorism.Pentagon authorities also have set a series of "decision points" during 2006 to consider further force cuts that, under a "moderately optimistic" scenario, would drop the total number of troops from more than 150,000 now to fewer than 100,000, including 10 combat brigades, by the end of the year, the officers said.... The current number of U.S. forces in Iraq represents an increase of more than 15,000 troops over a base level this year of about 138,000, including 17 combat brigades. The equivalent of another brigade's worth of combat power was added this fall to bolster security for the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum and the coming Dec. 15 vote on a new national government. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld spoke over the weekend of plans to bring the force level back down to 138,000 after the elections, effectively removing the extra brigade equivalent added for the election period.
That makes sense. Cutting and running like the Dems want, does not make sense.In addition, officers said, two combat brigades that had been slated to move into Iraq to replace units coming out are now expected to be held back. One of those units -- a brigade of the 1st Armored Division based in Germany -- will probably be positioned in Kuwait. The other unit -- a brigade of the 1st Infantry Division -- will probably remain at its home base of Fort Riley, Kan., the officers said. The plan to keep at least one brigade in Kuwait represents what one senior officer called a "hybrid option." It is intended to hedge against events in Iraq deteriorating once U.S. force levels begin to drop, the officer said, adding that the Pentagon probably will place troops on alert elsewhere as well.