Washington, D.C. The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, has given his military superiors and Defense Secretary Robert Gates his initial recommendation on when to resume a U.S. troop withdrawal and at what pace, a senior military officer close to the process said Friday.
The officer, who spoke only on condition that he not be identified, said Petraeus was still analyzing the situation and had not yet submitted a final set of recommendations. That is expected to happen within the next week or so, but there is no firm deadline.
The officer would not provide any specifics of Petraeus' initial recommendation. He was granted anonymity because of the sensitivity of Petraeus' deliberations and because they are not completed.
Petraeus is widely expected to conclude that the outlook in Iraq - politically as well as militarily - has brightened enough in recent months to merit more troop cuts this fall. At Petraeus' recommendation, President Bush halted the drawdown when the last of five Army brigades, sent in 2007 as reinforcements, pulled out in mid-July; Petraeus wanted time to analyze the impact of losing those five brigades.
His recommendations to Gates and to Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on how to proceed this fall will go to Bush for a final decision, likely in September.