Commission to Recommend Troop Withdrawal

Sources familiar with the eagerly awaited report by the Iraq Study Group say it will call for gradually removing U.S. combat forces out of Iraq. Although the report does not set any firm timetables or deadlines, ABC News has learned it sets a goal of withdrawing those combat troops by the first quarter of 2008.

A central theme of the report's military recommendations is shifting the U.S. mission in Iraq from combat to training and support of the Iraqi security forces. Under the plan, the 15 brigades of U.S. combat troops now in Iraq -- that's about 70,000 troops -- would gradually be moved out of the country.

That's not a total pullout: tens of thousands of U.S. troops would remain to train and support the Iraqis. It's also not an unconditional pullout. Sources familiar with the report say military commanders should be given flexibility to determine the exact timing of the withdrawal.

Today, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamel al-Maliki told ABC News they will increase Iraqi troop training in January with the goal of assuming power from U.S. forces in June. He spoke after meeting with President Bush in Jordan, as leaders look to quell the violence in Iraq.

The Iraq Study Group report is due to release its findings on Dec. 6. Commission member Alan Simpson would not discuss details, but he told ABC News the report "will not please everyone."

It won't please those led by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who have called for more troops. And it won't please those who have demanded a firm timetable.

"It would be much better if they had a clear beginning date, it would be much better in my book if some of the things they are allegedly leaving vague would be much more specific," said Sen. Carl Leven, D-Mich.

Much of the 50-page report deals with diplomatic issues, including the recommendation that the U.S. should deal with Iran and Syria. The report also calls for a regional summit in early 2007 to deal not just with Iraq, but also with other regional issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On the military side, the group's proposal sounds a lot like the current Pentagon plan for Iraq. Already, U.S. forces are shifting their emphasis from combat to training Iraqi troops.

And one senior military official tells ABC News the military's current plan envisions pulling up to 70,000 U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of next year. But that plan depends on conditions on the ground, and those conditions have had a way of destroying the most carefully laid plans to get out of Iraq.

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