General David Petraeus will testify before Congress today about troop withdrawal from Iraq. The four star general will emphasize that troop reduction be put off for another six months but will outline the timeline of the withdrawal from Iraq.
The NY Times is reporting:
The precise timing of such reductions, which would leave about 130,000 troops in Iraq, could vary, depending on conditions in the country. But the general has also said that it is too soon to present recommendations on reducing American forces below that level because the situation in Iraq is in flux. He has suggested that he wait until March to outline proposals on that question.
General Petraeus is expected to go through two days of hearings along with the American ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker. He will also discuss the progress that has been made in Iraq including the reduction of violence in Baghdad.
The NY Times also states:
A letter the general wrote to his troops on Friday outlines some of the arguments he is likely to use before Congress. The general conceded that the hope that Iraqi leaders would take advantage of the American military’s effort to tamp down violence to make political headway “has not worked out as we had hoped.” But he asserted that American forces had achieved “tactical momentum,” and stressed that American troops were forging successful alliances with local Sunni tribal leaders.
Testimony is scheduled to begin today at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time.
Watch the testimony live on CSPAN3
And what a great start. The microphone doesn’t work and the chairman of the Joint House Committee Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Missouri) is a jerk and in foul mood. commenting on those in the audience that are “making a disturbance.” He referred to those in the audience stating “[Those people] really piss me off” and called them “a**holes.” Wow. What a professional. Attention, your mike is on. Indiana Republican Re. Dan Burton said that he was concerned about those in the audience that may take away the focus of the General’s testimony and recommended that Rep. Skelton have those individuals removed. Skelton fired back to Burton stating that he knows what his job is and doesn’t need to be told how to handle the audience…
As the hearing began, Skelton stated, “He’s almost certainly the right man for the job in Iraq, but he’s the right person three years too late and 250,000 troops short…If we had your vision and approach, General, early on, we might not have gotten to the point where our troops are caught in the midst of brutal sectarian fighting without the Iraqi government bridging the political divides that drive the violence.
“The surge was intended to provide breathing space … while our troops are holding back the opposing team to let them make a touchdown, the Iraqis haven’t even picked up the ball,” Skelton continued…
I’ll have a wrap up of the testimony later on this afternoon. Back to the show…