Gates: "5 Brigades Home By July- Equal to 2007's Surge"

5 US Brigades Will Return Home By July–
Hopefully 5 More By the End of the Year!

Also… US officials announced that Iraqi forces could control all 18 provinces by the end of 2008!

Vendors display their products in a shopping area in north Baghdad’s Kazimiyah neighborhood, Iraq, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008. The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the reduction in attacks across Iraq and called for similar improvements in the political arena. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced today that 5 brigades, the equivalent of the Bush troop surge, should be home by July 2008.
DVIDS News reported:

Five brigade combat teams, equal to 2007’s troop surge, should be home by July, Defense secretary Robert M. Gates said today.

“All the evidence available to me now suggests that we will be able to complete the drawdown of the five brigade combat teams … by the end of July,” the secretary said at a briefing with the Pentagon press corps.

The first brigade has already left the country, but no specific timeline has been released for the redeployment of the others. Beyond that, additional troop movements will be based on assessments by military commanders in March and, ultimately, the president’s decision, Gates said.

But, Gates said, he hopes that the pace of the drawdown can continue after July, which would mean five more brigade combat teams would leave the country by the end of the year.

Gates said that Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of forces in Iraq, will submit his recommendations based on conditions and needs in theater. Simultaneously, U.S. Central Command officials and the Joint Chiefs of Staff also will submit independent recommendations based on their respective responsibilities, taking into account stress on the force and regional and global requirements. The president will hear all three proposals.

This follows the news earlier today that the UN Sees Economic & Political Progress in Iraq

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