WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S.
military's Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to urge
President George W. Bush to cut U.S. troop levels in
Iraq next year, the Los Angeles Times said on Friday,
citing military and administration officials.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, whose term as chairman expires
at the end of September, is expected to contend that
keeping significantly more than 100,000 troops in Iraq
through next year would severely strain the military
and compromise its ability to respond to other
threats, the newspaper said.
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David
Petraeus, is to give his much-awaited recommendation
next month on how to proceed with military operations
in Iraq in a report expected to spark a firestorm of
debate on the unpopular war.
The administration has been fending off calls to start
withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and has cited gains
from this year's increase of about 30,000 U.S. forces
that has brought troop levels there to about 160,000.
The Times said Pace will say it is strategically
important to reduce U.S. deployments in Iraq. It said
Pace will likely make that recommendation privately
instead of in a formal report.
A senior administration official told the Times that
the Joint Chiefs in recent weeks have voiced concerns
that the Iraq war has reduced the military's ability
to respond to other threats, such as Iran, the
While the focus has been on Petraeus' upcoming
recommendation, the Joint Chiefs' responsibility of
ensuring the military's long-term well-being means
Pace "by law, has a big role in that and he will
provide his advice to the president," the newspaper
quoted a senior military official as saying.
But the newspaper said given the pressure to defer to
Petraeus' report, the Joint Chiefs could weaken their
view to Bush.
Bush did not nominate Pace for a second term as
chairman and he is to leave the position at the end of September.