Americans serving in Iraq will have to wait until the next president takes office before they can expect any substantial changes in troop numbers, if Bush follows the latest recommended plan from Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.


The New York Times:

General Petraeus, speaking to Mr. Bush by secure videoconference during a two-hour meeting of the National Security Council, recommended putting off decisions on further troop reductions for a month or two after the departure in July of five extra brigades sent last year to help secure the nation, the officials said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely about internal deliberations.

There would be more frequent reviews after that to see when withdrawals might be allowed to resume, without any predetermined outcome and, given the time required to put troops into motion, little likelihood of big reductions on short timetables.

During the briefing to the president, General Petraeus laid out a number of potential options, the officials said, but avoided using the term “pause.” That word has gained traction here in Washington over recent weeks to describe the plateau in troop levels that is widely expected to last through the fall elections and perhaps beyond.

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