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Could we start withdrawing troops from Iraq as early as next spring?

Most likely, hell no.

At least, that's my opinion.  But now General Casey (the top General in Iraq) has just made a comment that troops could begin a draw down in Iraq as soon as next Spring (2006) or Summer.  That's pretty @#$%ing crazy.

Of course, there could be some logical and very Sun-Tzu-ish reasons for this statement - via the Financial Times:

..."If the political process continues to go positively, if the developments with the [Iraqi] security forces continue to go as it is going, we will still be able to make fairly substantial reductions after these elections, in the spring and summer of next year," Gen Casey said...

This could be a carefully crafted ploy to (1) increase the activity (non-violent) of the insurgency in order to facilitate finding them, (2) get the Iraqis in gear to take responsibility for their country, and (3) appease some politicians in the US that we are looking at leaving sometime in the near future.  There are many other theories too ("HELLO, SYRIA!").  And let's keep in mind that we aren't talking about sending 100,000 troops home right away...

However, General Casey has never been a great public speaker (see the last testimony in front of the Armed Services Committee) and often speaks out of step with some in the chain of command and some of the civilian leaders.

Hard to say one way or the other.  But at least you can count on Cool Blue to answer the question of How Will We Know If We're Winnning?....