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Pace denies US Iraq troop cut
Senior military officer denies report claiming he seeks a steep reduction in forces.
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2007 06:47 GMT
Pace has strenuously denied the report, which claims he support a steep troop reduction in Iraq [EPA] 
The most senior military officer in the US has denied a report saying he has decided to recommend a reduction in US troops serving in Iraq.
 
Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was expected to recommend to George Bush that troops be reduced to less than 100,000 next year, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
"The story is wrong. It is speculative. I have not made nor decided on any recommendation yet," Pace said in a statement.
 
The Times said Pace was likely to privately advise Bush that the US military would face severe strain if more than 100,000 of 162,000 troops now in Iraq stayed there in 2008.
Pace said in his statement that the Joint Chiefs were continuing to review "a wide range of options on any issue."
 
"I take very seriously my duty to provide the best military advice to the president. I provide that advice privately to the president."
 
Officers differ 
 
The Times cited administration and military officials in its report that Pace supported a steep reduction in troops.
 
 

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The article comes eight months after the Bush administration's "surge" policy committed 30,000 troops to Iraq.
 
Pace's alleged position may be in strong contrast with the view of other senior military officials.
 
"[Pace's] assessment could collide with one being prepared by the US commander in Iraq, Army General David Petraeus, calling for the US to maintain higher troop levels for 2008 and beyond," the newspaper said.
 
A White House spokesman said Bush had not received any recommendations on US troop levels in in Iraq.
 
"I would caution everyone that, between now and the next approximately 19 days, we're going to see a lot of reporting about what different people are recommending, [and] what they're not recommending," said Gordon Johndroe, national security spokesman.
 
He said that Bush would not make his own report to Congress after the submission of a report by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, US ambassador to Iraq, which is due in September.
 
Brigade reduction
 
The Times said Pace and the Joint Chiefs are concerned that the Iraq war "has degraded the US military's ability to respond, if needed, to other threats, such as Iran."
 
It said the Joint Chiefs - senior generals and admirals who advise the president on military affairs - want to reduce the 20 combat brigades currently on the ground in Iraq by up to 10 brigades.
 
Such a reduction, together with support units, would take the US troop presence in Iraq below 100,000.
 
The White House and Petraeus are aiming to cut back to 15 brigades, for a presence of about 134,000 troops, the paper said.
 
With Petraeus' recommendation imminent, the Joint Chiefs' responsibility towards the military's well-being means Pace "by law, has a big role in that and he will provide his advice to the president," the newspaper quoted a senior military official as saying.
 
But given the pressure to defer to Petraeus' report, the Joint Chiefs could dilute their recommendations, the Times said.
Source:
Agencies
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