Bush Pauses Iraq Troop Cutbacks, Shortens Deployments
We’ll continue to have large numbers of troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future but deployments will be cut to one year, President Bush announced today.
President Bush on Thursday ordered an indefinite halt in U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq after July, embracing the key recommendations of his top war commander. Bush said Gen. David Petraeus will “have all the time he needs” to consider when more American forces could return home.
Bush’s decisions virtually guarantee a major U.S. presence in Iraq throughout his term in office in January, when a new president takes office.
In another major decision, the president announced he will seek to relieve the heavy strain on the Army by reducing the length of combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan to 12 months, down from the current level of 15 months. He said the change would take effect on Aug. 1, and would not affect U.S. forces already deployed on the front lines.
Bush said U.S. forces have made major gains since he ordered a buildup of about 30,000 U.S. forces last year. “We have renewed and revived the prospect of success” the president said.
Not particularly surprising. It has been a virtual certainty for months that we’ll maintain a large troop presence in Iraq well into the next presidential term. Indeed, I wouldn’t be terribly shocked if that’s still the case come the 2012 elections.
The shorter deployments will only alleviate the strain on the Army if the length between rotations remains constant. Shorter tours with shorter breaks between them might actually be worse. A page 1 report in today’s WaPo by Peter Baker and Jonathan Weisman says that this will simply be a return to pre-Surge rotation of “an equal balance of one year in the war zone followed by one year at home.”