The Los Angeles Times reports that outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Major Gen. Peter Pace will call for cutting U.S. forces in half next year, putting him at odds with another general whose September report is much anticipated:
Administration and military officials say Marine Gen. Peter Pace is likely to convey concerns by the Joint Chiefs that keeping well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 will severely strain the military. This assessment could collide with one being prepared by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, calling for the U.S. to maintain higher troop levels for 2008 and beyond.
Petraeus is expected to support a White House view that the absence of widespread political progress in Iraq requires several more months of the U.S. troop buildup before force levels are decreased to their pre-buildup numbers sometime next year. ….
Pace is expected to offer his advice privately instead of issuing a formal report. Still, the position of Pace and the Joint Chiefs could add weight to that of Bush administration critics, including Democratic presidential candidates, that the U.S. force should be reduced.
The newspaper further reports, “the Joint Chiefs in recent weeks have pressed concerns that the Iraq war has degraded the U.S. military’s ability to respond, if needed, to other threats,” including Iran.
Pace retires at the end of September.