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140,000 US troops to remain in Iraq: Pentagon

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 25, 2008
About 140,000 US soldiers will remain in Iraq after July following the withdrawal of five combat brigades, higher than troop levels were before last year's "surge" in American forces, a senior Pentagon official said on Monday.

"In Iraq we are now projecting approximately 140,000 troops there in July," General Carter Ham, who is the operations director of the Joint Staff, told a press conference. "It is bigger than when we started the surge" in January 2007, he said.

About 132,000 troops were in place when President George W. Bush ordered an increase in US troops in Iraq in a bid to quell violence and clear the way for political reconciliation among rival factions.

"There is a full expectation that further reductions will occur" in troop levels, Ham said, but it was "premature" to talk about "timing and pace" of the drawdown in US troops.

Ham earlier this month said support forces and trainers that went in with the surge will still be needed to back up Iraq's expanding security forces after the last of the extra combat brigades leaves.

About 8,000 support troops were deployed to Iraq as part of the surge.

General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, has called for a pause in US troop reductions after July to allow time to evaluate the performance of Iraq's security security forces and the impact on security of a smaller US force.

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Thompson Files: Obama is tough
Arlington, Va. (UPI) Feb 20, 2008
Today's Democratic Party is so stridently opposed to the war in Iraq that it's hard to believe the same party presided over most of the big military buildups of the last century. Sometimes it seems more like the Democratic Party of Civil War years, which impeded Lincoln's efforts to win the war at every turn. But precisely because Democrats are so virulently anti-war, as they have been since the Vietnam conflict a generation ago, many voters have a wrongheaded view of where party front-runner Barack Obama stands on matters of war and peace. Like the main character in Ralph Ellison's 1953 novel "Invisible Man," Obama is a victim of stereotyping -- not because he's black, but because he's liberal.

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