Friday, December 21, 2007

Sec Gates estimates 100,000 troops in Iraq by election day

While Gates would not put a specific number on Iraq troop levels, he agreed a consistent reduction would leave 10 brigades _ roughly 100,000 troops _ soon after American voters go to the polls for the 2008 presidential elections.
There are currently 158,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The first brigade that is not being replaced left this month.
Gates said the capacity of Iraqi forces to bear more of the security burden and the ability of the Iraqi government to run the country are the leading factors that will influence how quickly U.S. forces can leave.
"My hope has been that the circumstances on the ground will continue to improve in a way that would _ when General (David) Petraeus and the chiefs and Central Command do their analysis in March _ allow a continuation of the drawdowns at roughly the same pace as the first half of the year."
Gates also criticized Congress' choppy funding for the wars. He said while the Pentagon welcomed the recent appropriation, it is less money than needed.
He said no furlough notices for Defense Department employees will be issued, a possibility that loomed until Congress passed the spending bill. But Gates said that prospect will reappear in a few months unless Congress supplies more money.
He said the military may run out of money by spring. That "requires us to make short term plans and short terms solutions," he said.
"I hope we don't have to have a replay this spring," Gates said.
Paying for the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan in fits and starts undermines military planning and risks the gains made by American troops over the past year, he said during a Pentagon news conference.

Congress recently provided $70 billion for combat operations, only half of what the President requested.


Call my cynical but they haven't talked about getting troops out of Iraq, until now and they recognize that they need to reduce the level of troops involved in the war before we vote. I wonder if Blackwater will be providing more private security forces? You notice the Pentagon never discusses the fact that there more than 120,000 private contractors working for the US government contracts in Iraq and Kuwait to keep the war going.

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