Reduction of U.S. Troops in Iraq Unlikely Soon

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A substantive reduction in the number of U.S. forces in Iraq (search) won't likely be seen until sometime between 2006 and 2008, a top Army general said Wednesday.

The talk of a general timetable for drawdown stems from improvements in Iraqi security forces and successes against the insurgency, Gen. Richard A. Cody (search), the Army's vice chief of staff, told reporters.

He said he could not be more specific.

Cody said any reduction in forces would be planned for in the later months of the rotation of soldiers and large units that will be staggered between 2006 and 2008. The planning for . The quality and capabilities of these forces vary widely, and it is unclear whether all the police are actually on the job.

Early postwar plans for Iraq anticipated far fewer U.S. troops to be in the country by now, but Cody acknowledged that the strength of the insurgency was far greater than expected, as was the damage to the country's basic infrastructure during the rule of President Saddam Hussein (search).