Iraq Panel to Urge Pullout Of Combat Troops by '08 (Washington Post, By Peter Baker and Thomas E. Ricks)
Well, that's more specific than yesterday's NY Times scoop. But let's see... 1) I don't think they're really saying much at all, except to transfer all responsibilities ASAP, which as far as I know was the plan all along; 2) They suggest not withdrawing but escalating if the situation deteriorates, which I think it will, and I don't know if that's the right solution; and 3) A reduction of half sounds better than nothing, but I'm not sure if it would be enough.The panel included a significant caveat for the 2008 goal for troop withdrawals by recommending that commanders should plan to pull out combat units by then unless "unexpected developments" make them decide that such a move would be unwise, the sources said. Still, they said, the plan would put the onus on U.S. commanders to try to meet the goal or explain why they failed to.
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group plans to recommend withdrawing nearly all U.S. combat units from Iraq by early 2008 while leaving behind troops to train, advise and support the Iraqis, setting the first goal for a major drawdown of U.S. forces, sources familiar with the proposal said yesterday. [...]
Although it was not clear how many U.S. troops would be left in Iraq by 2008, some people knowledgeable about the commission's deliberations have said that it might be possible to reduce the force of 140,000 to half by then. "There'll still be a presence there that will be significant just because of the nature of embedded forces," said one of the sources familiar with the commission's report. "It won't be what we have now, I'll tell you that."
And add to that. . .
Iraqi forces 'ready by mid-2007' (BBC)
According to a transcript released by ABC in advance of the broadcast, Mr Maliki outlined a plan to transfer security control to the Iraqi army.Maybe this is the beginning of the end of the occupation. I wonder what it means for Iraq.
"At the beginning of next year we will increase the training of our forces... when they reach an acceptable level, we can talk about transferring power from multinational forces to Iraqi forces.
"I can say that Iraqi forces will be ready, fully ready to receive this command and to command its own forces, and I can tell you that by next June our forces will be ready," he said.