Senators Press Petraeus on Iraq Withdrawal Timing

Senators meeting with the U.S. commander in Iraq on Tuesday want to know how soon Gen. David Petraeus might be willing to bring more troops home. Petraeus is already sending back some forces. He says he wants a "pause" in withdrawals this summer to allow time to consider his next moves.

NPR's Pentagon Correspondent Tom Bowman, who has been watching the hearing, talks about what the general is proposing and how things are going in Iraq.

Bowman says the question of scheduling is important to senators, particularly Democrats, who want to see more troops come home. And Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who are running for the Democratic presidential nomination, have been pushing that hard: bring more troops home faster.

Petraeus told senators that violence is down in Iraq, there are fewer civilian deaths, some political progress is being made, and Iraqi security forces are getting better, but that U.S. forces are needed to maintain the security gains — "It's the glue that holds us all together," Bowman says.

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