WASHINGTON – As the U.S. prepares to hand over control of Iraq's Anbar province, the U.S. Marine commandant says fewer U.S. forces are needed there.
General James Conway says the two main U.S. ground combat units in Anbar represent more than enough force to maintain security once the Iraqis take over. That's because violence in the region has continued to drop.
Any decision to reduce Marine forces in Iraq rests initially with General David Petraeus, who commands all U.S. forces in Iraq. Also weighing in on this will be Defense Secretary Robert Gates as well as Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the final decision to be made by President Bush.
Conway, who visited Iraq this summer, spoke at a Pentagon news conference.
As recently as 2006, Anbar was the deadliest province in Iraq for American troops. Now it is one of the quietest parts of the country, with Iraqi security forces in the lead.