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US commander: Iraqis want US out as soon as possible
Nine MSN (AU)
December 26, 2005

The top US military commander admitted Sunday that Iraqis wanted US and other foreign troops to leave the country "as soon as possible," and said US troop levels in Iraq were now being re-assessed on a monthly basis.

The admission by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine General Peter Pace followed a decision by the Pentagon to reduce the current level of 160,000 soldiers in Iraq by two army brigades, which amounts to about 7,000 soldiers.

"Understandably, Iraqis themselves would prefer to have coalition forces leave their country as soon as possible," Pace said in a Christmas Day interview on Fox News Sunday. "They don't want us to leave tomorrow, but they do want us to leave as soon as possible."

Some US foreign policy experts have expressed concern that a new Iraqi government emerging from the December 15 parliamentary elections could ask American troops to leave, but officials have dismissed that forecast as unrealistic.

However, an opinion survey conducted in Iraq in October and November by ABC News and a pool of other US and foreign media outlets showed that despite some improvements in security and living standards, US military operations in the country were increasingly unpopular.

Two-thirds of those polled said they opposed the presence of US and coalition forces in Iraq, up 14 points from a similar survey taken in February 2004.

Nearly 60 percent disapproved of the way the United States has operated in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, with most of those expressing "strong disapproval," the poll found.

When asked to suggest a timing for the US pullout, 26 percent said US and other coalition forces should "leave now," while 19 percent opted for a withdrawal after the Iraqis formed a new government based on the results on the December 15 election.

Among those who support a delayed pullout, 31 percent said it should happen after security is fully restored, while 16 percent favored waiting until Iraqi security forces can operate independently, according to the survey.

Pace denied the US Defense Department had prepared a plan that calls for bringing the US troop level in Iraq below 100,000 by the end of next year.

But he said force requirements in Iraq are being regularly assessed by the top US military commander there, General George Casey.

"They do a very, very thorough analysis, literally once a month, in great detail," Pace said. "They then determine how many troops they need to get the job done."

But the chairman warned that "the enemy has a vote" in how fast US troops were being drawn down, and if attacks intensified, "you could see troop levels go up a little bit to handle that problem."

Two US soldiers were killed in Baghdad on Christmas Day by roadside bombs, the military announced.

In a move largely interpreted as the beginning of a gradual drawdown of US forces in Iraq, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced last week that one infantry brigade from Fort Riley, Kansas, and one mechanised brigade from Germany will not be sent to Iraq as initially planned.

The decision will reduce the number of US combat brigades in Iraq from 17 to 15.

Meanwhile former secretary of state Colin Powell, who headed the joint staff during the 1991 Gulf War, said Sunday he was certain there would be fewer US troops in Iraq a year from now.

"I don't think we can sustain this level of presence with the force size that we have," he said on ABC's "This Week" program.

To maintain the pre-election "baseline" of 138,000 troops in Iraq, the US military will have to dramatically overhaul rules governing deployments of the National Guard, whose members make up to 40 percent of the contingent.

Such an undertaking could be politically unrealistic, according to members of congress.

Commentary:
It takes a few months to train a soldier in the US and we've been training soldiers in Iraq for years and they still can't do their jobs. What's talking so long? and why are they so inept?

Congressman Murtha changed the debate from "endless war" to "getting out as soon as possible." Bush lost control of the message and he'll never get it back.

Pace knows Bush lost power and credibility, so he's now echoing Murtha. Murtha's remarks and resolution

Whereas, according to recent polls, over 80 percent of the Iraqi people want U.S. forces out of Iraq;

Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

We WILL leave Iraq soon and Iraq WILL fall into civil war.