General Sees Summer Deadline For Troops

General Sees Summer Deadline For Troops
January 20th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: General Sees Summer Deadline For Troops

General Sees Summer Deadline For Troops
New York Times
January 20, 2007
Pg. 6

By David S. Cloud
TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq, Jan. 19 — Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Iraq, said Friday that the additional troops being sent to Iraq under President Bush’s new plan to stabilize the country could begin to be withdrawn by late summer if security conditions improve.
“I believe the projections are late summer,” General Casey said, adding, “I think it’s probably going to be the summer — late summer — before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods.”
The American buildup, which is expected to reach slightly more than 20,000 troops, is just beginning, and all the units may not be in place for several months, but General Casey said there could be signs of improvement in Baghdad in 60 to 90 days. He also said that the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, appeared to be carrying through on his side of the plan, which requires the Iraqi government to commit more troops and not to interfere with military operations aimed at cracking down on the Shiite militias that have been blamed for much of the sectarian violence in Baghdad.
“So far, so good,” General Casey said. “We are seeing them come through on those commitments.”
The three Iraqi brigades that Mr. Maliki promised have not yet arrived in Baghdad. But General Casey said that American and Iraqi units have arrested a number of insurgent and death squad members, including five or six death squad leaders in the last three or four weeks. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, who is making his second trip to Iraq in less than a month, came to southern Iraq on Friday for talks with British commanders and General Casey.
Britain has about 7,000 troops in southern Iraq, and officials in London told Mr. Gates earlier this week that they were making plans to withdraw most of them sometime this year.
“As we see the need for less troops, the surplus will go home,” said Maj. Chris Ormond-King, a British military spokesman in Basra, where Mr. Gates held the talks with British commanders.
Major Ormond-King said that Britain maintains three bases inside Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, but that plans were moving forward to turn over the city to full Iraqi control, a step that he added was “probably achievable” by this spring.
He said that British commanders had no plans to disarm Shiite militia groups, including the Mahdi Army and the Badr Organization, that have been vying for power in the city, as long as they do not attack British forces. A critical part of the new American strategy for stabilizing Iraq is to persuade Mr. Maliki to disarm Shiite militias as well as Sunni insurgents. In the past, Mr. Maliki has been reluctant to crack down on the Mahdi Army, whose leader, Moktada al-Sadr, has been a pivotal member of his political coalition.
Mr. Gates said this week that Britain was making troop reductions at the same time Washington was building up forces in Iraq because conditions in southern Iraq are different than those in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, where the United States has most of its troops.
Mr. Gates had lunch in Basra with General Casey and Maj. Gen. Jonathan Shaw, the recently arrived British commander. Later, Mr. Gates and General Casey traveled to this air base in southern Iraq to meet with Australian and Romanian commanders and to receive briefings on reconstruction efforts in the south.
Since taking office, Mr. Gates has pushed to ensure that the new American strategy to send additional troops also includes a renewed focus on reconstruction efforts.

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