The media will try to spin this as retreat, when in reality it is a continuation of an existing strategy.
The top military general in Iraq hinted to ABC's Martha Raddatz that next week's much-anticipated report on the status of the troop surge in Iraq would include a recommendation for troop reduction in March, if not sooner, to avoid a strain on the Army.It should be noted that these reductions will be on the usual cycle of tours of duty in Iraq. Also note Petraeus' language: The surge will run its course. When doctors prescribe medication they do so for a specific dose and amount of time.
"The surge will run its course. There are limits to what our military can provide, so, my recommendations have to be informed by — not driven by — but they have to be informed by the strain we have put on our military services," Gen. David Petraeus said in the interview at Camp Victory in Baghdad. "That has to be a key factor in what I will recommend."
Iraq is a sick nation and Dr. Petraeus has prescribed medication. When the surge runs its course it will have cleaned out a lot of the sickness. Does that mean the illness is wholly cured? By no means. But we'll be a long way down that road.
Later in the article we get Petraeus' opinion on why things are heading the way they are.
"Eight of the past 11 weeks have seen the number of incidents, the number of attacks, come down, and to the point that they reached a level that's about the lowest in well over a year, I think," he said. "Civilian casualties [are] still certainly too high. But again, pretty substantial progress, and certainly, trending very much in the right direction."I think his report will be very interesting and very positive. I can't wait.
He specifically points to the progress in al Anbar Province, which was once an al Qaeda hotbed.
"That was the result, not of military actions, certainly, alone. It was the result of, really, a political shift where the population led by the sheiks of major tribes decided to reject al Qaeda and its Taliban-like ideology, and the extremist behavior that they have come to associate with it," Petraeus said.
"That is what brought the level of violence down so dramatically. Because al Qaeda no longer finds a hospitable place in the Euphrates River Valley the way it did, certainly, in the past."
"Their sanctuaries have shrunk considerably … so, they don't have the ease of movement, the ease of locations, where they're safe the way they were before," he said.
Edit: Watch Katie Couric walking around in Fallujah here. She wouldn't have dared to do that even a year ago.