April Briefing Set on U.S. Troops in Iraq How long will U.S. troops occupy Iraq? The Pentagon plans to withdraw some troops between now and mid-summer. A clearer picture will emerge when Gen. David Petraeus briefs lawmakers in April.
NPR logo

April Briefing Set on U.S. Troops in Iraq

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18599170/18599115" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
April Briefing Set on U.S. Troops in Iraq

April Briefing Set on U.S. Troops in Iraq

April Briefing Set on U.S. Troops in Iraq

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18599170/18599115" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

How long will U.S. troops occupy Iraq? The Pentagon plans to withdraw some troops between now and mid-summer. A clearer picture will emerge when Gen. David Petraeus briefs lawmakers in April.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

And, Guy, people were talking about getting down to about 100,000 troops by the end of 2008. Why is that not going to happen now?

GUY RAZ: What he was saying at that time, was if the situations stabilized we could, essentially, reach a figure that translates roughly to about 100,000 if you include all of the support and logistics units. But that possibility is really becoming increasingly unlikely.

INSKEEP: What is it that Pentagon officials are thinking about now?

RAZ: Let's take a listen.

GEORGE W: My attitude is if he didn't want to continue the drawdown, that's fine with me, in order to make sure we succeed. See? I said to the general if it's - if you want to slow her down, fine, it's up to you.

INSKEEP: Okay. So the president says you don't have to take out extra troops. Let's say that Petraeus thinks that he can, that the situation has improved. Would that actually lead to a drawdown in troops?

RAZ: Well, that's a possibility, you know. And while there are certainly politicians in Washington who are describing the situation in Iraq as a success, you know, very few commanders in Iraq are prepared to go that far. They're far more cautious. And over the weekend, General Petraeus was asked about this issue, and he made it pretty clear that he's going to hold off on making any decisions on further reductions once this initial drawdown ends in July. He spoke on CNN on Sunday.

DAVID PETRAEUS: We will, though, need some time to let things settle a bit, if you will, after we complete the withdrawal of what will be over one quarter of our combat power, one quarter of what we had during the height of the surge.

INSKEEP: Okay. One quarter of their combat power. In other words, the combat brigades, the guys who are actually fighting, will be going away, he says, over the coming months. And then, they'll pause and see where things stand. Where will the overall number of troops be then at that point?

RAZ: So there's a very likely possibility that there will be more troops in Iraq in January 2009 than there were just before the surge.

INSKEEP: Guy, thanks very much.

RAZ: Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's NPR Pentagon correspondent Guy Raz.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Dozens Killed in Baghdad Market Bombings

Two women wearing remotely controlled bomb vests carried out nearly simultaneous attacks on Friday in separate market areas of Baghdad, killing at least 72 people and wounding some 100 others in the deadliest attacks in the city since last year's surge in U.S. troop levels.

At least 45 people were killed in an attack at Baghdad's main pet bazaar when explosives under the bomber's traditional black Islamic robe were set off. The second attack, minutes later, was also carried out by a woman and killed as many as 27 people at a bird market in a predominantly Shiite section of the city's southeast.

According to the chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, the women apparently had Down's syndrome and may not have understood what they were doing. Brig. Qassem Ata al-Moussawi said at least one of the two women frequented the area where the attack took place and was known to be "mentally disabled." He said both bombs were remotely detonated.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the use of mentally retarded women as suicide bombers proves al-Qaida is "the most brutal and bankrupt of movements" and will strengthen Iraqi resolve to reject terrorism.