U.S. to Pull 15,000 Troops Out of Iraq
Buoyed by a higher turnout and less violence than expected in Sunday’s Iraqi elections, Pentagon authorities have decided to start reducing the level of U.S. forces in Iraq next month by about 15,000 troops, down to about 135,000, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said yesterday. The reduction involves about three brigades of Army soldiers and Marines whose tours were extended last month to bolster security ahead of the elections, and an additional 1,500 airborne soldiers who were rushed to Iraq for a four-month stint.
“I think we’ll be able to come down to the level that was projected before this election,” Wolfowitz said. But testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Wolfowitz also warned of “a very difficult road ahead” in defeating Iraqi insurgents and indicated that no further drop in U.S. troops was planned this year. Another senior Pentagon official said after the hearing that the initial decrease did not reflect an improved security situation in Iraq but was simply a recognition that the forces kept specifically for the election were no longer needed and could leave as previously scheduled.
Makes sense to be. A good sign, in any case.