No surprise: Troop cuts in Iraq may halt in summer

Despite what the Bush administration has said, troop cuts have always been tied to the logistics of the surge.

By Alex Koppelman
January 31, 2008 8:40PM (UTC)
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The Washington Post's Thomas Ricks has a Page 1 story today noting that senior U.S. military commanders in Iraq want to pause troop cuts for at least a month this summer. This follows on the heels of a similar article in the New York Times Wednesday. The Times focused on signals sent to the same effect by President Bush himself.

At the risk of repeating myself (again), this is hardly a surprise. No matter what the White House says now, top military officials -- including Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, and Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- have never made a secret of the fact that the troop cuts in Iraq were a matter of necessity. Put simply, the surge was always time limited. Extending its duration would have meant further extending soldiers' tours in Iraq, thus breaking promises made by top commanders and potentially "breaking" the military. The current troop cuts are a function of that.


By summer, the withdrawals related to the surge will have ended, and we'll be back to roughly pre-surge force levels. (Additional support troops that came with the surge's actual combat troops may remain, the Times reported Wednesday.) That the administration would decide against further troop cuts after that should hardly be shocking -- the record clearly shows that the Bush administration didn't choose force reductions, it was forced into them.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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