Broadcast Coverage From Pentagon Correspondents

Broadcast Coverage From Pentagon Correspondents
February 12th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Broadcast Coverage From Pentagon Correspondents

Broadcast Coverage From Pentagon Correspondents
February 11, 2008
NBC Nightly News, 7:00 PM
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Now, Jim, while we have you, the Secretary of Defense made news today – remarks he gave about a pause in the departure of American troops from Iraq.
JIM MIKLASZWESKI: Secretary Gates is pretty much on board with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. The general doesn’t want to give up any gains that have been made during the current surge operation, so he’d like to keep about 130,000-140,000 American troops on the ground when the surge ends some time this summer. Many had hoped, of course, that they could draw the number of troops down to about 100,000 by the end of the year. That could still happen. But if it doesn’t, military officials are predicting that the Army, already stressed up by the war, could get stretched to the breaking point. Brian?
WILLIAMS: All right. Jim Miklaszewski, on duty tonight at the Pentagon for us.
The Situation Room (CNN), 5:00 PM
WOLF BLITZER: Car bombs blew up nearly simultaneously today in Baghdad. The Iraqi government says at least 19 people were killed. The blasts came at the end of a visit by the U.S. defense secretary, in which the future of American troops topped the agenda.
Our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, has details from Baghdad -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, when it comes to the war in Iraq, there's probably no subject more on the minds of Americans than when and how many U.S. troops can come home. And that's one thing that Defense Secretary Robert Gates was discussing with his top commander here in Baghdad.
MCINTYRE: Defense Secretary Robert Gates emerged from a meeting with his top commander, General David Petraeus, and endorsed Petraeus's idea of a pause in troop withdrawals after the surge ends in July.
DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: A brief period of consolidation and evaluation probably does makes sense.
QUESTION: How brief would that be?
GATES: Well, that's one of the things that we're still -- we're still thinking about.
QUESTION: Has General Petraeus explained to you his thinking on that subject?
GATES: Sure. And I must say that, in my own thinking, I had been kind of headed in that direction, as well.
MCINTYRE: Gates's unannounced visit to Baghdad lasted less than 24 hours. He arrived on a weekend when attacks, particularly a deadly bombing north of Baghdad, claimed more than 50 Iraqi lives.
But in private briefings, Gates was showered with charts showing dramatic declines in violence. And at an awards ceremony for an outgoing commander, Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, Gates congratulated his troops for a job well done.
GATES: What a difference you made and much more -- Al Qaeda routed, the insurgents co-opted and levels of violence of all kinds dramatically reduced.
MCINTYRE: The latest attacks underscore the tenuous nature of the security gains and why U.S. commanders are weary about further cuts.
MAJ. GEN. JEFF HAMMOND, U.S. ARMY: We're not going to give back any terrain. We're not going to do that -- not in Baghdad.
MCINTYRE: The key question now is, how long will the pause be and whether the hope of reducing U.S. troop levels to 100,000 by the end of the year remains realistic.
Secretary Gates says that will be decided by President Bush.
MCINTYRE: Wolf, when we're traveling with the defense secretary, we don't get a chance to really get out of the bubble and see what's going on in Baghdad. And while there's a lot of signs of improvement here, one sign that after five years after the war things are still difficult is the fact that you don't go anywhere without wearing body armor -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We want you to be safe over there, Jamie. Thanks very much.

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