Interview With Gen. Petraeus

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
February 20, 2008
BARBARA STARR, CNN: As American troops are just weeks away from beginning a sixth year of combat operations in Iraq, they may get some welcome news. General David Petraeus is strongly hinting that the grueling 15-month tour of duty is about to be scaled back to 12 months on the ground.
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: The Army will be able to make an announcement later this spring. We’ve had discussions about that, and sometime around the time of the testimony, I think that the Army can lay out tour lengths that will be back to what was normal before that.
STARR: Petraeus will be in Washington in April to brief President Bush and Congress on his recommendations for the next round of troop reductions in Iraq. In an exclusive interview with CNN at his Baghdad headquarters, Petraeus laid out new details about the next steps. He will recommend a pause before deciding when to withdraw more troops beyond the five brigades scheduled to come home by July. But he’s adamant more withdrawals will come.
PETRAEUS: Reductions are going to take place though, Barbara. This is not about not reducing. It’s about the pace and the tempo and the size of those reductions over time.
STARR: The general continues to say it will all depend on conditions on the ground. There is no question in many areas, violence is down. And troops are better protected with these new armored vehicles. Still, Petraeus makes clear: security is tenuous. And he won’t let the talk back home about firm withdrawal deadlines push him into a corner.
PETRAEUS: Again, as I mentioned earlier, conditions-based reductions are, from the point of view of the commander on the ground, the logical way to go.
STARR: President Bush is expected to keep Petraeus as the top commander on the ground until the end of his administration. Almost a two-year tour in a still-fragile country.
Barbara Starr, CNN, Baghdad.