POLITICS

Pentagon Report To Recommend "Very Rapid Withdrawal" Of Forces

03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

[I]t's questionable whether even the smoothest-talking salesman could appease public opinion -- or Petraeus's Pentagon detractors -- at this point. NEWSWEEK has learned that a separate internal report being prepared by a Pentagon working group will "differ substantially" from Petraeus's recommendations, according to an official who is privy to the ongoing discussions but would speak about them only on condition of anonymity.

An early version of the report, which is currently being drafted and is expected to be completed by the beginning of next year, will "recommend a very rapid reduction in American forces: as much as two-thirds of the existing force very quickly, while keeping the remainder there." The strategy will involve unwinding the still large U.S. presence in big forward operation bases and putting smaller teams in outposts. "There is interest at senior levels [of the Pentagon] in getting alternative views" to Petraeus, the official said. Among others, Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon is known to want to draw down faster than Petraeus.

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