A shocking development in the Petraeus testimony:
Gen. David Petraeus said Thursday that by September he is likely to recommend whether further force reductions in Iraq are possible.
The four-star Army general, who has been leading troops in Iraq, is slated to become the head of U.S. Central Command. He told a Senate panel he now believes he can make a recommendation for possible force reductions before changing command this fall.
“My sense is that I will be able to make a recommendation at that time for some further reductions,” Petraeus said. “I don’t want to imply that that means” a particular brigade or major combat formation.
“But I do believe there will be certain assets that, as we are already looking at the picture right now, we’ll be able to recommend can be either redeployed or not deployed to the theater in the fall,” he said, while repeating his past caution that conditions on the ground could change.
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, responded: “That’s good news to most of us.”
On a less-optimistic note, Petraeus said it is unlikely that Iraqi security forces will take the lead in all provinces this year, as was recently predicted by the Defense Department. Petraeus said events in the past month and a half — alluding to a spike in violence in Basra — have pushed that goal to 2009.
It never ends.