It has been said often that when the Iraqi's step up, we can step down and the latest report from the LA Times shows us that it is quite possible that part of the report that General Petreaus will be issuing mid September will be showing that the areas where he and our military are seeing the greatest progress and success will be handed over to trained Iraqi security forces as our military moves into other areas to duplicate the process.
Intent on demonstrating progress in Iraq, the top U.S. general there is expected by Bush administration officials to recommend removing American troops soon from several areas where commanders believe security has improved, possibly including Al Anbar province.
According to the officials, Gen. David H. Petraeus is expected to propose the partial pullback in his September status report to Congress, when both the war's critics and supporters plan to reassess its course. Administration officials who support the current troop levels hope Petraeus' recommendations will persuade Congress to reject pressure for a major U.S. withdrawal.
The expected recommendation would authorize U.S. commanders to withdraw troops from places that have become less violent and turn over security responsibilities to Iraqi forces.
But it does not necessarily follow that Petraeus would call for reducing the overall number of troops in the country. Instead, he could move them to another hot spot, or use them to create a reserve force to counter any rise in violence.
This has been the goal and the intentions and we have been waiting for the conditions on the ground to warrant such a move, but let us hope that it is done because the Iraqi security forces are ready and able to handle it and not because of Democratic political pressure in Congress from those that are so invested in defeat they cannot accept that we are seeing progress.
Petreaus does seem to be keeping that in mind as shown in a paragraph a little further down:
Petraeus has been keeping a "close hold" on the recommendations he intends to deliver next month, according to a senior military officer in Baghdad. But the officer said Petraeus wanted to ensure that any moves he made did not cause violence to flare up again.
"He doesn't want to lose the gains we have made," said the military officer who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity because the report is still being developed.
We know the British troops left Basra believing the Iraqi's were able to maintain the security, which has been their goal also, but it proved to be too soon.
Not the British troops fault, lets be clear, there is no way to know how effective Iraqi security will be until you leave those you have trained and see if they can walk on their own yet.
In all wars, one must learn from mistakes and as history has shown us, there has never been a war where there has not been miscalculations and mistakes made.
Cutting the number of troops in Al Anbar would also eliminate the need to request more forces to secure areas around Baghdad, where the U.S. has been focusing much of its military effort.
"If the Marines are having so much success in Al Anbar, maybe we redeploy them to some other hot spot," said the Defense official. Administration officials have cited improved ties with Sunni Arab leaders in Al Anbar with helping reduce violence and curb the power of the insurgents.
Not all military commanders favor reducing the number of troops in more stable areas. In a news conference last month, Marine Maj. Gen. Walter E. Gaskin, the commander of U.S. forces in Al Anbar, cautioned against cutting back forces there too quickly.
It seems the commanders on the ground are keeping this in mind and decisions will be made accordingly.
But division and brigade commanders in other parts of Iraq have said they anticipate recommending further reductions in the months to come. Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. "Randy" Mixon, the American division commander for northern Iraq, said last month that he expected to cut the number of troops in his area, but emphasized that reductions should be made slowly.
The Army 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade has moved soldiers out of combat roles in Mosul and other cities, and into assignments such as full-time advisors with Iraqi units.
It is not happening overnight, it is not easy and no one promised it would be, but our Military and Coalition forces led by General Petreuas are far more informed than our politicians on the hill and will make their recommendations based on conditions on the ground and not because they need a "vote" in the next election cycle.
[Update] More from Breitbart tells us that Petreaus is planning on cutting troops in the areas he believes the iraqi's can secure.
BAGHDAD (AP) - The top American commander in Iraq said Wednesday he was preparing recommendations on troop cuts before he returns to Washington next month for a report to Congress, and believes the U.S. footprint in Iraq will have to be "a good bit smaller" by next summer.
But he cautioned against a quick or significant U.S. withdrawal that could surrender "the gains we have fought so hard to achieve."
Gen. David Petraeus said the "horrific and indiscriminate attacks" that killed at least 250 Yazidis, an ancient religious sect, in northwestern Iraq Tuesday night were the work of al-Qaida in Iraq. That would bolster his argument, he said, against too quickly drawing down the 30,000 additional U.S. troops deployed in the first half of the year.
The general issued his comments to a small group of reporters who accompanied him to the headquarters of a group of former Sunni insurgents who are now working with American and Iraqi forces against al-Qaida in western Baghdad's Amariyah neighborhood.
Petraeus listened intently as the so-called Freedom Fighters' 40-year- old leader, who uses the nom-de-guerre Abu Abed, explained his transformation and said he switched sides because al-Qaida was ravaging the neighborhood and trying to impose its austere version of Islam.
Members of the neighborhood volunteer army milled about, U.S.-supplied pistols strapped to their hips and AK-47 automatic rifles at the ready. Petraeus reviewed a short line of the auxiliary force and shook hands with each man.
Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, who unexpectedly accompanied Petraeus, promised Abed that the neighborhood—now that it was calmer—would receive priority government attention for its crumbling infrastructure.
Read the rest...