The government in Iraq has welcomed the testimony given to the US Congress yesterday by America’s top army commander in Baghdad. General David Petraeus insisted progress has been made towards achieving stability and troop numbers could be cut by 30,000 by next summer.
The Iraqi government today said it was confident it will have less need for multinational forces to carry out combat operations in what it calls the near future. The Democrats have been pushing for a quick end to the war. Tom Lantos, the Democrat’s Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “The administration’s myopic policies in Iraq have created a fiasco.”
But Petraeus spoke out against any major change in strategy: “I believe Iraq’s problems will require a long-term effort. There are no easy answers or quick solutions. And although we both believe this effort can succeed, it will take time. Our assessments underscore, in fact, the importance of recognising that a premature draw down of our forces would likely have devastating consequences.”
Petraeus said the force could fall to about 130,000, the same level it was before numbers were boosted earlier this year. At Ford Hood in Texas, that will be good news for some. One soldier there said: “I don’t really want to go back. Reason why is family. I’ve got two kids and a wife and I don’t want to miss out too much of their life.” At this base alone, some 600 soldiers who left for Iraq have never come back. The war, now into its fifth year, has killed more than 3,700 US troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis.