President Bush is signaling that troop reductions in Iraq may slow or stop after this summer, reports the New York Times. Insiders say Bush is preparing Americans for the possibility that troop levels may be at least as large as they were a year ago when he leaves office. Troop numbers are scheduled to return to levels before the surge—when 20,000 fighters were added—by July. That would leave some 130,000 soldiers still in the country.
A rift is said to have developed in the administration over the competing demands of keeping things on track on Iraq and safeguarding the overall health and strength of the US military. "We’re concerned about the health of the force, but the most important thing is that they succeed,” said a White House official. "If commanders believe we need to maintain troop numbers at the current level to maintain security, then that’s what the president will do.