Playing politics with the troops

From Scout:

While the Republicans in Congress beat up on Dems with harrumphs this past week that timetables are Cut N Run, General Casey was briefing the Pentagon and White House on timetables, which we now learn from leaks coming from “American officials” including a “senior White House official” ….

WASHINGTON, June 24 — The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.

According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007.

Under the plan, the first reductions would involve two combat brigades that would rotate out of Iraq in September without being replaced. Military officials do not typically characterize reductions by total troop numbers, but rather by brigades. Combat brigades, which generally have about 3,500 troops, do not make up the bulk of the 127,000-member American force in Iraq, and other kinds of units would not be pulled out as quickly.


The commander met this week with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On Friday, General Casey and Mr. Rumsfeld met with President Bush at the White House. A senior White House official said that General Casey did not present a formal plan for Mr. Bush’s approval but rather a concept of how the United States might move forward after consulting with Iraqi authorities, including Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki


If executed, the plan could have considerable political significance. The first reductions would take place before this falls Congressional elections, while even bigger cuts might come before the 2008 presidential election. (emphasis mine)