Study Group: Iraq Situation 'Grave and Deteriorating'

ByABC News
December 6, 2006, 10:28 AM

Dec. 6, 2006 — -- The United States "must not make open-ended commitments to keep large numbers of troops deployed in Iraq," the Iraq Study Group warned in a report received by President Bush early this morning.

Flanked by the commission's co-chairs -- former Secretary of State James Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind. -- Bush praised the bipartisan panel's efforts, though the report concluded his administration's policy had led Iraq to chaos.

The president called the report "a very tough assessment of the situation in Iraq" and pledged to treat each proposal seriously and in a "timely fashion."

Bush also urged Congress to do the same.

"While they won't agree with every proposal, and we probably won't agree with every proposal, it nevertheless is an opportunity to come together and to work together on this important issue," he said.

A portion of the group's 142-page report is titled "The Way Forward: A New Approach."

Among the 79 recommendations offered in the report's "way forward" is a change in the central mission of U.S. troops in Iraq and a renewed diplomatic effort in the Middle East.

"The primary mission of U.S. forces should evolve to one of supporting the Iraqi army," the report reads. "It's clear [the] Iraqi government will need U.S. assistance for some time to come, especially in carrying out new security responsibilities. Yet the United States must not make open-ended commitments to keep large numbers of troops deployed in Iraq."

"The most important questions about Iraq's future are now the responsibility of Iraqis," the report says. "The United States must adjust its role to encourage the Iraqi people to take control."

The report recommends an initial increase in the number of U.S. troops dedicated to training and supporting the Iraqi security forces, but calls for the gradual withdrawal of all other U.S. forces.

All U.S. troops not involved in this training and support mission, the report says, could leave Iraq by "the first quarter of 2008."