Top Military Commander in Iraq testifies to Congress - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Top Military Commander in Iraq testifies to Congress

The much-awaited Iraq Progress report is being delivered on Capitol Hill.

It's seen by many as a make-or-break moment for President Bush, as he tries to convince congress to keep troops in Iraq a while longer.

General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker testify before a joint session two house committees today.

What they're expected to say is no secret: that the troop surge in Iraq is working, but needs more time.

General Petraeus, the top U-S Commander in Iraq, believes the 30-thousand extra troops President Bush sent to Baghdad this year made a difference.

Petraeus said, " the military objectives of the surge in large part, are being met. I believe we will be able to reduce forces to a pre-surge level by next summer without jeopardizing the security gains we've fought so hard to achieve."

About 4000 troops can come home by December, he'll reportedly say.

Democrats argue that's not nearly enough:

Rep. Tom Lantos of California said, "we need to get out of Iraq for that country's sake and our own. It is time to go and time to go now."

In a letter last week, General Petraeus told troops despite uneven success and disappointing progress by Iraq's government -- the U-S has achieved "tactical momentum" in many areas.

But how long will it take to turn the tide against insurgents?

Retired General Barry McCaffrey said, "maybe by next year, these forces will play themselves out, but not by September."

More likely, Petraeus is expected to say, next spring.

Michael O'hanlon, of the Brookings Institution, said, "the question is, is it improving enough that we should be patient with the politics and keep trying to do the same kinds of things we're already doing."

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki claims his government has prevented civil war but needs more time before taking over security.

An independent panel of generals reported last week Iraqis can't yet secure the country alone.

With 168-thousand Americans fighting in Iraq, more than ever, Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker argue now is not the time to pull back.

A new poll of Iraqis finds 70 percent think the troop surge has made security there worse and most think attacks on coalition forces are acceptable.

 

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