The Bush administration is considering the withdrawal of additional combat forces from Iraq beginning in September, according to administration and military officials, raising the prospect of a far more ambitious plan than expected only months ago.
Such a withdrawal would be a striking reversal from the nadir of the war in 2006 and 2007.
One factor in the consideration is the pressing need for additional American troops in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and other fighters have intensified their insurgency and inflicted a growing number of casualties on Afghans and American-led forces there.
More American and allied troops died in Afghanistan than in Iraq in May and June, a trend that has continued this month.
Although no decision has been made, by the time President Bush leaves office on Jan. 20, at least one and as many as 3 of the 15 combat brigades now in Iraq could be withdrawn or at least scheduled for withdrawal, the officials said.
The desire to move more quickly reflects the view of many in the Pentagon who want to ease the strain on the military but also to free more troops for Afghanistan and potentially other missions.
Prepare to be sickened by the praise for the Bush Administration. They know the only chance McCain has is to eliminate the Iraq War as an issue, so the Bush Administration and the DC Establishment is going to do whatever they can to praise Bush for his "leadership" and to show that only John McCain can be trusted to "finish the job."
This cynical, unrealistic and untenable position on the war is all these people have left. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the American people from seeing the costs of the war--in deaths and injuries, in lost souls and wandering, homeless Veterans. They desperately need to draw down to around a hundred thousand US troops or slightly less--so they can say that there are "more" troops deployed in Europe, Japan and Korea than in the Middle East. It's a sham, and no one should buy it.