BAGHDAD -- U.S. military officials here are increasingly envisioning a "post-occupation" troop presence in Iraq that neither maintains current levels nor leads to a complete pullout, but aims for a smaller, longer-term force that would remain in the country for years.
This goal, drawn from recent interviews with more than 20 U.S. military officers and other officials here, including senior commanders, strategists and analysts, remains in the early planning stages. It is based on officials' assessment that a sharp drawdown of troops is likely to begin by the middle of next year, with roughly two-thirds of the current force of 150,000 moving out by late 2008 or early 2009. The questions officials are grappling with are not whether the U.S. presence will be cut, but how quickly, to what level and to what purpose.
I love this part:
One of the guiding principles, according to two officials here, is that the United States should leave Iraq more intelligently than it entered.
Gee, ya think?
I guess that means we're going to start fighting them here, if we aren't fighting them over there.
Actually, this article scares me: it sounds like the military is talking about being realistic as though it was a new idea that just occurred to them.