Update: ABC has posted a toned-down version of the story.
“ABC News Learns of Plans to Keep Troops in Iraq Beyond 2009,” was the top story posted on Saturday morning’s edition of Antiwar.com. Then the story disappeared.
The link now says “You’ve requested an ABCNews.com page that does not exist.”
The story said that US officials had told ABC News that the troop levels in Iraq cannot be maintained at the present level, either politically or practically, with the military stretched so thin.
It went on to explain that this had not deterred the plans of top US commanders in Iraq want the surge to continue until at least December and expect to report enough progress by September to justify the extension.
This was an important story, but elements of it still exist. Gen. Odierno had said on Thursday that he would probably need more time than September to assess the results of the new strategy. The same day Defense Secretary Gates indicated that our presence in Iraq would be for a “protracted period of time.” The previous day, White House spokesman Tony Snow indicated our 50-year presence in Korea should be a good future model for Iraq.
A portion of the article was retrieved from a bulletin board posting:
U.S. officials told ABC News that the troop levels in Iraq cannot be maintained at the present level, either politically or practically, with the military stretched so thin.
But that does not imply an immediate drawdown. Officials told ABC’s Martha Raddatz that the senior commanders in Iraq — Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno and Gen. David Petraeus — want the surge to continue until at least December and expect to report enough progress by September to justify the extension.
The drawdown would begin in February 2008, although each of the two generals supports a slightly different plan.
Plan one, which officials say Odierno is pushing, calls for a reduction in troops from roughly 150,000 today to 100,000 by December 2008.
Petraeus champions a slightly different approach that would cut the troops down to roughly 130,000 by the end of 2008, with further reductions the following year.
Presence in Iraq Beyond 2009
There is also discussion of how long U.S. troops will remain in Iraq.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates envisions “some presence” on the part of the United States that “provides reassurance to our friends and to governments in the region, including those that might be our adversaries, that we’re going to be there for a long time,” Gates said.
A senior official said one long-term plan would have 30,000 to 50,000 U.S. forces in Iraq for five to 10 years beyond 2009.
During that period, the bulk of the troops would be deployed to bases at strategic points throughout Iraq to respond to crisis in those areas. Camp Victory would continue to operate as the U.S. military headquarters in Baghdad.