General Assures Improved Iraq Security, Troop Drawdowns

By Maya Kulycky, ABC News | 

The principal architect of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq gives an account of his strategy to Congress.

On Sept. 10, General David Petraeus told lawmakers he believes the U.S. military can reduce forces in Iraq to pre-surge levels by next summer.

General Petraeus told Congress security in Iraq has improved, allowing a reduction in surge troops to begin in December or early next year.

"The military objectives in large measure are being met. In recent months in the face of tough enemies and the brutal summer heat of Iraq, coalition forces have achieved progress in the security arena," Petraeus explained.

Drawdowns would happen first in the Anbar province and northern Iraq.

Before he even spoke, critics of the war took aim at the general.

"The administration has sent you here today to convince that victory is at hand," Democratic Representative Tom Lantos said.

But from others there was support for Petraeus.

"I have more respect for the military, to serve partisan purposes," Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen assured.

Petraeus' message is more positive than others that have been heard recently but the White House insists Petraeus is an independent voice on the war.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows most Americans have their doubts--53 percent think Petraeus will try to make things look better in Iraq than they really are.

Later this week, President Bush is expected to announce the course of action he plans to take.

The White House says he'll take into account recommendations from General Petraeus and other military leaders, his national security team and Congress.

General Petraeus says a marine unit will depart Iraq later in September, beginning a drawdown that would be followed in mid-December with the departure of an Army brigade.

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