Iraq progress means shorter tours for troops


President Bush declared progress in the Iraq war Thursday, saying terrorists "are on the run" and a generally improved security environment should permit further U.S. troop reductions.

Standing on the Colonnade outside the Oval Office of the White House, Bush also announced that effective Thursday, the duration of troop tours in Iraq will be cut from 15 months to 12 months.

Bush said this reduction "will relieve the burden on our forces and it will make life easier for our wonderful military families."

The president's updated report on Iraq was delivered on short notice to the White House press corps and it came with the war in its sixth year and violence on the ground substantially decreased in recent weeks.

He said that commanding Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, however, "caution that the progress is still reversible, and they report that there now appears to be a degree of durability to the gains that we have made."

"We are now in our third consecutive month with reduced violence levels holding steady," Bush said.

Looking ahead to the next recommendation on troop levels from U.S. military leaders, Bush said he expects "further reductions in our combat forces, as conditions permit."

Bush deserves credit for a strategy that made these reductions possible and for bringing the troops home in victory and not in retreat as Obama proposed. Casualties for July are some of the smallest of the war, and as post below indicate al Qaeda leadership is fleeing Iraq for Afghanistan and Pakistan.


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