President Bush has accepted the recommendations of his top commander in Iraq, who said the troop surge is working, and is ordering gradual reductions in U.S. forces there.
In an televised address Thursday, Bush said the principle guiding his decisions is what he termed "return on success." As he put it, "The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home."
General Petraeus has recommended that about 2,200 Marines
scheduled to leave Anbar Province later this month not be replaced.
In addition, Petraeus said it will soon be possible to bring home
an Army combat brigade, for a total force reduction of 5,700 troops
Bush firmly rejected calls to end the war, saying "the success of a free Iraq is critical to the security of the United States." He said a free Iraq "will deny al Qaida a safe haven" and will counter what he calls "the destructive ambitions of Iran."
Democrats are saying President Bush's decision to order gradual troop reductions in Iraq isn't enough.
Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island delivered the Democratic
response to Bush's prime-time Oval office address. The former Army
Ranger says the president has failed to provide "either a plan to
successfully end the war or a convincing rationale to continue it."
Reed said Democrats would work to "profoundly change" the U.S.
military involvement in Iraq. Senate Democrats have been discussing
legislation to limit the mission. U.S. troops would be restricted to training Iraq's military and police, protecting U.S. assets and fighting terrorists.