Tuesday, July 22, 2008


As I suspected, we will probably draw down our combat brigades in Iraq by one this year:

Iraq's security has improved so much, even as US troop levels have dropped, that President Bush seems likely to order thousands more soldiers home by year's end.

That was not the widespread view only three months ago when Bush announced there would be a temporary halt to troop reductions once the last of five "surge" brigades left Iraq this month. Many believed the country would remain too fragile to justify thinning American combat lines before 2009.

However, two weeks of observing US and Iraqi troops in and around Baghdad, coupled with Associated Press interviews with commanders and planners, suggest a likelihood that Bush will move to reduce the US force by perhaps another combat brigade, or roughly 3,000 to 4,000 soldiers, toward the end of the year. More cuts seem possible next year, but the scale and timing will depend on who replaces Bush in the White House.

As a further guess, I'd say that early in the new year, we draw down an additional Army brigade and a Marine regimental combat team. The replacement Marine unit will go to Afghanistan.

If present trends continue, of course.