Top U.S. General Says Number of Capable Iraqi Battalions Drops to OneDo you get the feeling that Rumsfeld was the script doctor for Casey's comments?
WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of Iraqi battalions capable of combat without U.S. support has dropped from three to one, the top American commander in Iraq told Congress Thursday, prompting Republicans to question whether U.S. troops will be able to withdraw next year.
Gen. George Casey, softening his previous comments that a "fairly substantial" pull out could begin next spring and summer, told lawmakers that troops could begin coming home from Iraq next year depending on conditions during and after the upcoming elections there.
In June, the Pentagon told lawmakers that three Iraqi battalions were fully trained, equipped and capable of operating independently. On Thursday, Casey said only one battalion is ready.
"It doesn't feel like progress," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Despite the drop, Casey hailed significant progress in training Iraqi security forces and noted that U.S. troops are embedded with more Iraqi units in mentoring roles than before. "Have we lost ground? Absolutely not," Casey said.
Casey said the Pentagon's standard for what constitutes a fully capable Iraqi battalion is high and that it's been difficult to ensure logistical support for Iraqi units. "I understand how it could be perceived as disappointing," he told Collins.
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