A conversation today with a senior Administration official began with a response to the MoveOn.org ad with the comment, “This really pisses me off.” It was pointed out that Congress demanded that General Petraeus appear before them to deliver a status report, then they and their allies attempt to discredit him before he has had a chance to say anything. The expectation is that the General will anticipate a drawdown of troops beginning this month. When 2200 Marines rotate out of Anbar province this month as scheduled, they will not be replaced in Iraq. Instead, their replacements will be part of the strategic reserve in the theater. Then, a brigade of about 3,500 troops, though not a surge brigade, should be able to rotate out of Iraq in December and not be replaced. If the security progress continues, additional brigades could be withdrawn in the first half of next year, with President Bush determined to provide General Petraeus with the flexibility to decide whether and when such a withdrawal is apropriate. President Bush is expected to ask General Petraeus to report on progress again in March, i.e. are the security gains contiuning and what do conditions on the ground permit with respect to the size of the force?