A double hedge on reducing troop levels

Petraeus won't commit to numbers; the president reportedly plans to add qualifiers.

Published September 11, 2007 9:21PM (EDT)

So under Gen. David Petraeus' plan for Iraq, American troop levels in Iraq will be down to pre-surge numbers by next July, right?

Not necessarily.

Petraeus was just asked to confirm that he expects there to be about 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq come next July. He hedged. "What I have said is that we will have 15 brigade teams, and that we will have to shape what the rest of the force is," he said. "What I want to do is get as low as I can."

The word from the White House is even more qualified. As the Associated Press is reporting, President Bush is expected to announce later this week that he's signing off on Petraeus' plans for Iraq but that he will "condition those and further cuts on continued progress."

By Tim Grieve

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

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