By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
June 12, 2008 - The number of U.S. troops in Iraq is slated to decrease from 20 to 15 brigades by the end of July, but it is too soon now to predict additional reductions, the U.S. military's top officer said here today. The Iraq redeployment involves about 30,000 U.S. troops who were sent there last year to support the surge of forces, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted at a Government Executive Magazine-hosted breakfast at the National Press Club.
Their departure by the end of July, Mullen said, will bring the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq to about 140,000.
The U.S. "surge" troops and 100,000 additional Iraqi security forces combined their efforts to push al-Qaida terrorists and other insurgents out of Baghdad and its environs, producing improved security and reduced violence across the country.
"Clearly, if the trend continues, ... we would most likely need fewer forces" in Iraq, Mullen said. However, "it's too early to say," he cautioned, whether U.S. commanders in Iraq will recommend additional troop reductions in the months ahead.
U.S. commanders in Iraq continuously assess troop requirements, Mullen told the audience. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the current commander of Multinational Force Iraq who has been selected by President Bush to take over U.S. Central Command, is slated to evaluate Iraq troop requirements this fall, the admiral noted.