Gates: Troops May Leave Iraq Early
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 29, 2009 8:37 AM CDT
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, walks to his plane with the top US commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno as he prepares to depart Baghdad to Irbil, in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July 29, 2009.   (AP Photo/Jim Watson, Pool)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – The United States is considering speeding up its withdrawal from Iraq because of the sustained drop in violence there, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today, following discussions with his top commanders in the war. "I think there's at least some chance of a modest acceleration," this year, Gates said, calling the situation "better than expected."

It was the first suggestion that Obama might rethink his decision to leave a heavy fighting force in Iraq, despite his opposition of the war. Perhaps one of the current 14 combat units could come home early, Gates said, a cut of roughly 5,000 people. But continued bad blood between Iraq's central government and the self-ruled Kurdish region in the north represents the major wild card to a faster pullout.