In today’s hearing, Gen. David Petraeus suggested that he will withdrawal 30,000 troops from Iraq next summer, citing that “security gains” and future progress due to the escalation have allowed the move:
Based on all this and on the further progress we believe we can achieve over the next few months, I believe that we will be able to reduce our forces to the pre-surge level of brigade combat teams by next summer without jeopardizing the security gains that we have fought so hard to achieve.
The traditional media has largely accepted Petraeus’s spin. The New York Times reported that “the hard-won progress made in Iraq” permitted the withdrawal. “[S]ecurity progress in Iraq should allow” withdrawal next summer, reported Bloomberg. The “President’s troop escalation plan in Iraq had met its military objectives” according to Petraeus, stated ABC.
But in reality, security and political progress in Iraq is nonexistent. Petraeus, who has said he wants to stay in Iraq for 9-10 years, is in fact reducing troop levels next summer because the escalation has overstretched and overburdened the military to its breaking point.
Several current and former Bush administration officials have publicly warned for several months that current troop levels cannot be sustained past next summer:
Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace: Pace “is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half” and “is likely to convey concerns by the Joint Chiefs that keeping well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 will severely strain the military.” [8/24/07]
Army Chief of Staff George Casey: “Right now we have in place deployment and mobilization policies that allow us to meet the current demands. If the demands don’t go down over time, it will become increasingly difficult for us to provide the trained and ready forces.” [8/20/07]
Commanding General Odierno: “We know that the surge of forces will come at least through April at the latest, April of ’08, and then we’ll have to start to reduce…we know that they will start to reduce in April of ’08 at the latest.” [8/26/07]
Army Secretary Peter Geren:“[T]he service’s top official, recently said he sees ‘no possibility’ of extending the duty tours of US troops beyond 15 months.” [8/30/07]
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell: “[T]hey probably can’t keep this up at this level past the middle of next year, I would guess. This is a tremendous burden on our troops.” [7/18/07]
UPDATE II: The Center for American Progress produced this pre-buttal video of Petraeus’ testimony that lays out the key myths and facts. Watch it: