Petraeus Calling for Up to 8,000 Fewer Troops in Iraq by January

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Gen. David Petraeus has recommended the withdrawal of 7,500 to 8,000 U.S. troops from Iraq between now and mid-January, according to a senior U.S. military official familiar with Petraeus' recommendations to the president.

One Army Brigade Combat team — about 4,000 troops — will complete its mission in January and will not be replaced, according to the official. FOX News has learned the reduction also will include a battalion of 1,100 Marines and a Marine aviation squadron, which will be returned but not replaced this fall. The rest of the forces will be taken from combat support units.

News of Petraeus' recommendations comes in the face of reports that there would be no troop reductions in Iraq this year, and that Petraeus was stalling until the next president takes over in January.

U.S. generals in Iraq have been calling for a troop reduction in areas where security has been established, such as Anbar province, control of which was handed over Iraqi forces Monday.

Keeping "25,000 Marines in Anbar province for a number of years is a Linus blanket," said Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway, calling his Marines a security blanket for Iraqis where such numbers were no longer necessary.

U.S. generals have called for the removals from Iraq to free up more troops for potential redeployment in Afghanistan.

"I'm going to ask for more troops," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, commander of the Army's 101st Airborne and regional commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan. "I think it's pretty commonly known that I already have, and I'm optimistic that we will potentially see them in the coming months."

Attacks in Afghanistan are up 30 percent from a year ago, Schloesser said, and 7,000 to 11,000 Taliban currently are hiding in eastern Afghanistan preparing to attack this winter.

"I've got a couple of areas … that I have very low numbers of troops in and therefore I'm not able to really get good effects on the ground," he said. "I can come in and I can clobber the enemy, but then I cant hold it and stay with the people. ... We're going to need some more help."

The suggested reduction in Iraq is smaller in size than the three combat brigades — some 12,000 to 14,000 troops — that President Bush hinted in June might be removed. It is not clear whether the president will accept the current recommendations.

FOX News’ Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.