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An Accelerated Withdrawal?

4:49 PM, Jul 14, 2008 • By BILL ROGGIO
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The pace of the U.S. military drawdown in Iraq has been accelerated by the Bush administration, according to the New York Times: "The Bush administration is considering the withdrawal of additional combat forces from Iraq beginning in September, according to administration and military officials, raising the prospect of a far more ambitious plan than expected only months ago." The reasons given are to help support the flagging effort in Afghanistan and improved security conditions in Iraq.

But the reality is this pace for drawing down troops was broadcast last year by General David Petraeus during his September testimony to Congress. General Petraeus even presented a slide to highlight the proposed drawdown, which has always been based on security conditions.

drawdown-slide-sept-2007.jpg

The graph shows that back in September 2007 the U.S. military planned to draw down to 15 combat brigades by July (this has happened) and targeted a drawdown to 12 combat brigades by the end of this year. The decision to draw down to 12 brigades will be made sometime in September. In March of 2009, the U.S. will decide to draw down to about 10 combat brigades.

The reality is that as the media focused on deriding General Petraeus's testimony on the state of the security situation in Iraq, they ignored the military's assessments on the planned posture of U.S. forces in Iraq in 2008 and beyond. Now that the U.S. is moving forward with its plans, their failure to note the timeline last year is characterized as an acceleration.