Petraeus: Back to 2006 by July 2008

The general says it would be "premature" to talk about going beyond pre-surge troop levels.

Topics: Iraq war, War Room,

In his opening statement to a joint hearing of the House Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, Gen. David Petraeus predicted that, based on gains he has seen so far and “further progress we believe we can achieve over the next few months,” the United States “will be able to reduce our forces to the pre-surge level of brigade combat teams by next summer without jeopardizing the security gains that we have fought so hard to achieve.”

Petraeus said that he has recommended to his “chain of command” that the United States begin withdrawing some troops from Iraq later this month, with more withdrawals coming over the course of the next year, “until we reach the pre-surge level of 15 brigade combat teams by mid-July 2008.”

And after that? “Force reductions will continue beyond the pre-surge levels of brigade combat teams that we will reach by mid-July 2008,” Petraeus said. “However, in my professional judgment, it would be premature to make recommendations on the pace of such reductions at this time. In fact, our experience in Iraq has repeatedly shown that projecting too far into the future is not just difficult, it can be misleading and even hazardous.”

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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