Report: US may reduce US combat forces in Iraq by 50%
The White House is reportedly working on what officials describe as several "concepts" for cutting the number of American combat troops in Iraq by as much as 50 percent next year. Citing unnamed senior administration officials, The New York Times said the concepts could lower US troop levels in Iraq to roughly 100,000 by the time the 2008 US presidential election moves into high gear.
They would also greatly scale back the mission that President George W. Bush set for the US military when he ordered it in January to win back control of Baghdad and Anbar Province, the daily reported. The mission would instead focus on the training of Iraqi forces and fighting Al-Qaeda.
But there is no indication that Bush is preparing to call an early end to the current troop increase, The Times said.
Proponents of reducing the troops and scaling back their mission next year appear to include Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, it said.
One of the ideas, according to officials cited in the report, would be to reduce the current 20 US combat brigades to about 10, a move which would be completed between the spring of 2008 and the end of the year.
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