President Bush heads to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on Thursday.
Despite some congressional resistance, it seems Gen. David Petraeus’ recommended “pause” in U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq will take effect after July. On Thursday, President Bush (whose approval ratings have plummeted to a new low) essentially deferred the withdrawal issue to his successor, saying Petraeus can “have all the time he needs” to figure out a timetable for bringing troops home.
AP via Breitbart.com:
In another major decision, the president announced he will seek to relieve the heavy strain on the Army by reducing the length of combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan to 12 months, down from the current level of 15 months. He said the change would take effect on Aug. 1, and would not affect U.S. forces already deployed on the front lines.
Bush said U.S. forces have made major gains since he ordered a buildup of about 30,000 U.S. forces last year. “We have renewed and revived the prospect of success” the president said.
Bush delivered his remarks in the Cross Hall of the White House before an audience of veterans’ service groups and Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The president’s decision had been foreshadowed by two days of testimony before a skeptical Congress by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad. Now in its sixth year, the war has claimed the lives of more than 4,000 U.S. troops and cost more than $500 billion.
Iraq and the sagging economy have taken a heavy toll on the public’s view of Bush. His job approval rating has fallen to just 28 percent, a new low in the Associated Press-Ipsos poll.