Gates Would Urge Veto of Webb Troop Deployment Plan

Sep 16, 2007 10:45am

ABC News’ Tahman Bradley Reports: A proposal by Democratic Senator of Virginia Jim Webb to influence force levels in Iraq by requiring that US troops spend as much time at home as they do on deployments overseas drew criticism Sunday from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who said he would recommend President Bush veto such a requirement.

Gates expressed concern that Webb’s proposal would create a very difficult force management issue and could force commanders to tap the already stressed national guard and reserves.

"It would be extremely difficult for us to manage that. I think it’s really a backdoor effort to get the president to accelerate the draw down," Gates said.

"We’re having difficulty trying to keep to my policy of 15 months deployed, 12 months at home, for the active force and a full-year mobilization limit on the Guard and Reserve. We’re having enough trouble trying to make that work, without the strictures of legislation."

At a press conference Friday Gates raised the possibility that US troop level in Iraq could be cut to around 100,000 by the end of 2008.

"My hope is that when he does his assessment in March that General Petraeus will be able to say that he thinks that the pace of the drawdown’s can continue at the same rate in the second half of the year as in the first half of the year," he said.

Force levels in Iraq today are nearly 170,000.

Gates appeared on "This Week" and "Fox News Sunday".

The Senate is expected to resume debate on anti-war legislation this week but the White House has warned Congress should not try to influence deployment and troop rotation because it limits military commanders’ flexibility.

Also on Political Radar

ABC News’ Mary Bruce on Gates rebuking Alan Greenspan’s claim that the Iraq war is "largely about oil," also from "This Week". 

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