AP Via St. Petersburg Times:
The U.S. military's top general said Monday that the Joint Chiefs of Staff is weighing a range of possible new directions in Iraq, including, if President Bush deems it necessary, an even bigger troop buildup.
Making no predictions, Marine Gen. Peter Pace revealed that he and the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force are obliged to consider various troop-level scenarios before September, when Bush will receive an assessment of the Iraq situation from his top commander there, Gen. David Petraeus.
"We're (doing) the kind of thinking that we need to do and be prepared for whatever it's going to look like two months from now," he said in an interview with two reporters traveling overnight with him from Washington aboard an Air Force C-17 cargo jet.
"That way, if we need to plus up or come down" in numbers of troops in Iraq, then the details will have been studied and the military services will be in position to carry out whatever policy Bush chooses, Pace said. Read more...
Al-Maliki told reporters Saturday he was confident that Iraq's army and police are capable of maintaining security "if the international forces withdraw any time they want." [..]
On Monday, however, al-Maliki rolled back. He hoped that Iraqi forces would receive enough training to be able to take over security duties from the Americans by the end of the year.