Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Draw down in Iraq?

The Pentagon has planned since Spring/Summer 2005 to draw troop levels down to about 100,000 in Iraq by the end of 2006. An announced "hold" of one brigade is receiving some attention in the press. The Washington Post notes:
"It's a very narrow decision just to hold this unit for now," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, adding that it is likely the brigade will still deploy "somewhere down the road." Whitman said: "It's my understanding that it will deploy at some time. They are trained; they're equipped and ready to go."

Instead, the decision to postpone the deployment was intended to give more time and flexibility to U.S. commanders in Iraq, led by Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., while they and Iraqi leaders assess the insurgency and sectarian violence amid the formation of a new Iraqi government.
The A.P. reports today:
BAGHDAD, Iraq May 9, 2006 (AP)— Iraq's prime minister-designate said Tuesday the main stumbling blocks to forming a new Cabinet have been overcome and he expects to present his team to parliament for approval by the end of the week.
BAGHDAD, May 9 (Reuters) - Iraqi political leaders are still negotiating over who should head the oil and trade ministries in the new, full-term government being formed this week, the prime minister-designate said on Tuesday.
The Pentagon has also stated time and again that troop levels would be determined with the new Iraq government's consultation. As the government begins to form, it is interesting -- to say the least -- that one brigade has been placed on hold.


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