Monday, July 11, 2005

"The Sieve"

Looks like Tony Blair has a leaker in his office too. The Washington Post today fronts a memo written to Blair by UK Defense Minister John Reid, outlining "plans" by the US and Britain to withdraw the majority of troops from Iraq by next year. British and American defense officials say final decisions have not yet been made on troop levels, but the memo indicates that "emerging US plans" would draw down the number of coalition troops in Iraq to 66,000 (from 160,000 today) by early 2006.

The Post notes that this "memo is apparently the first time such a significant reduction has been outlined under a specific timetable."

What is most interesting about the memo to me is that it "notes a debate between US officials at the Pentagon and military leaders in Iraq, saying that officials in Washington favor 'a relatively bold reduction in force numbers,' differing with battlefield commanders, 'whose approach is more cautious.'"

"Such debates," the next paragraph continues, "contribute to contingency planning, according to US officials, and there can be several different scenarios under consideration at the same time. A rapid reduction in troops would depend on the success of several political processes in Iraq and of the emerging Iraqi security forces."

The fact that these memos exist shouldn't surprise people. In fact, it's heartening to know that the Administration is thinking about such things. Planning will change as events happen in Iraq, and that obviously will need to be taken into account, as Minister Reid has made clear. The important thing is that the coalition do the draw-down cautiously and appropriately, allowing Iraqi forces the time they need to take control. The worst possible outcome would be a withdrawal followed by a collapse and the need to re-insert troops to provide stability.


At 12:05 PM, Blogger The Cynical Liberal said...

As much as I hate the war in Iraq, and you know how much I do... Withdrawing troops from Iraq will lead to all-out Civil War. I wonder if Blair and Bush know/care.


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