Bush agrees to limited troop cuts in Iraq

The U.S. President, George W. Bush has announced plans to reduce the number of American troops in Iraq by 5,700 by the end of the year. Further withdrawals will continue in 2008, cutting soldier numbers by around 20,000 by next July.

The announcement is unlikely to satisfy Democrats or war-weary Americans, who were calling for a massive pull-back and a change of policy on Iraq.

In his televised address to the nation, Bush supported the recommendations of General David Petraeus, the Pentagon's top military commander in Iraq. He called for the reduction of five brigades from Iraq.

“Because of this success, General Petraeus believes we have now reached the point where we can maintain our security gains with fewer American forces. He has recommended that we not replace about 2,200 Marines scheduled to leave Anbar Province later this month. In addition, he says it will soon be possible to bring home an Army combat brigade, for a total force reduction of 5,700 troops by Christmas. And he expects that by July, we will be able to reduce our troop levels in Iraq from 20 combat brigades to 15,” said the American President.

Democrats have dismissed the President's plans as unacceptable. Senator Jack Reed said Bush had already spent too much money on the war and it was time for full-scale withdrawal.  

“Democrats believe it is time to change course. We think it's wrong that the President tells us there's not enough money for our veterans and children’s health care because he is spending $US 10 BLN a month in Iraq. We have put forth a plan to responsibly and rapidly begin a reduction of our troops. Our proposal can not erase the mistakes of the last four and a half years, but we can chart a better way forward,” he stated.