President Bush's top defense advisers have recommended he maintain 15 combat brigades in Iraq until the end of the year—contrary to expectations that the improved security in Iraq would allow for quicker cuts, the AP has learned. If Bush follows the recommendations, he would delay any additional buildup in Afghanistan until early next year.
Military leaders told the AP that the closely held plan would send a small Marine contingent to Afghanistan in November to replace one of two Marine units expected to head home then. Then in February, a brigade would be deployed to Afghanistan instead of Iraq. The plan is a compromise, senior military officials said, because David Petraeus has argued for maintaining current force levels in Iraq.