Rice talks of Iraq troop reductions

Against a backdrop of calls from both Iraqi leaders and the U.S. Congress to withdraw American troops, military officers and defense analysts said this week that reductions are likely in 2006 but Iraq will not be ready to take a lead role against insurgents before 2007.

"I've said all along 2006 is a key year. America fights its wars on the clock," said retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales Jr., who wrote a book on the Iraq war and served as commandant of the Army War College. "It's a wearing away of the American resolve, based on the body count," reports Newsday.

According to Washingtonpost, &to=http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/88/354/16315_Condoleezza.html' target=_blank>Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the United States will probably not need to maintain its current troop levels in Iraq "very much longer," though she declined to provide a precise timetable for reduction in U.S. forces.

Rice appeared to set the stage for such a reduction, saying the Iraqi forces are doing a better job of holding their own against insurgents. "I do not think that &to=http://english.pravda.ru/war/2003/03/23/44872.html' target=_blank>American forces need to be there in the numbers that they are now because _ for very much longer _ because Iraqis are stepping up," Rice told Fox News in an interview Tuesday. "This is not just a matter of training numbers of Iraqi forces, but actually seeing them hold territory."

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