Bush declares 8,000 soldiers will return from Iraq
President Bush announced Tuesday that he will keep the U.S. force strength in Iraq largely intact until the next president takes over. The American leader stated he will pull home some 8,000 combat and support troops by February. No more Army combat brigades will withdraw in 2008.
Bush's announcement came in a speech at the National Defense University. According to the AP, he said more U.S. forces could be withdrawn in the first half of 2009 if conditions improve in Iraq. But by then, he'll be out of office. His successor will be making the wartime decisions.
There are about 146,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
"Here is the bottom line: While the enemy in Iraq is still dangerous, we have seized the offensive, Iraqi forces are becoming increasingly capable of leading and winning the fight," Bush said.
In all, about 8,000 U.S. forces will be coming back, the president said. One Marine battalion, numbering about 1,000 troops, will go home on schedule in November and not be replaced. An Army brigade of between 3,500 and 4,000 troops will leave in February. Accompanying that combat drawdown will be the withdrawal of about 3,400 support forces over next several months.