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The widespread assumption is that the surge is unsustainable beyond late Spring or early Summer owing to the unavailability of sufficient troops. The Administration acknowledges that maintaining the elevated number of forces in Iraq would take some “hard choices,” like extending tours from 15 months to 16 or 17, and/or reducing the time between deployments from 12 months to 10 or 11. A senior official stressed that the way forward would be dictated by conditions on the ground and General Petraeus’ view of what he needs. When the General makes his recommendations in the Spring, President Bush would have emphasized, “don’t recommend anything that jeopardizes success.” The President is “prepared to do whatever it takes” to maintain the kind of security progress that will permit his successor to sustain the necessary military commitment in Iraq. His successor’s successor was also mentioned. It was explained that a long-term commitment to Iraq is necessary in order to realize the long-term benefit of a stable, democratic Iraq.



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