THE UN-SURGE….The LA Times reports that the Joint Chiefs of Staff wants to dramatically cut the size of the U.S. military presence in Iraq:
Administration and military officials say Marine Gen. Peter Pace is likely to convey concerns that keeping a force well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 would severely strain the military. This assessment could collide with one being prepared by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, calling for the U.S. to maintain higher troop levels for the next year and beyond.
….Pace’s recommendations reflect the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who initially expressed skepticism in private about the strategy ordered by Bush and directed by Petraeus before publicly backing it.
According to administration and military officials, the Joint Chiefs believe it is of strategic importance to reduce the size of the U.S. force in Iraq in order to bolster the military’s ability to respond to other threats, a view shared by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
….The chiefs are pushing for a significant decrease in troop numbers once the current buildup comes to an end — perhaps to as low as 10 combat brigades, or about half of the 20 currently in Iraq. Along with support units, that would lower the U.S. presence to less than 100,000 troops from the current 162,000.
This is just some raw data to munch over. I have no idea whether Pace and the JCS have any more influence now than they did last year when they advised against the surge and were told to stuff it. Probably not. In any case, I really don’t see how Bush and Petraeus could possibly report enough progress in September to justify any troop drawdown. What rationale could they offer up with a straight face, after all?