Tom Ricks is the champion of insider information. He almost always knows what's happening in the U.S. defense establishment as it's brewing. If he reports it, it's probably true. Tom reported yesterday that Gen. Raymond Odierno has asked the Obama administration to breach its force levels planned for Iraq. The Obama administration's mantra for leaving Iraq has been "responsible drawdown." If Tom's right, we're about to see that concept tested.
When the president announced his exit strategy from Iraq, he was careful to describe the force remaining after 100,000 "combat troops" were withdrawn by Aug. 31, 2010. These "support troops" could number 35,000 to 50,000, depending on "tactical adjustments." It is just such an adjustment General Odierno seems to be proposing. Six brigades of troops were slated to remain in Iraq after the Aug. 31st deadline. Odierno evidently requested that one more brigade currently in Iraq continue through the conclusion of its 12 month tour, rather than be curtailed by the president's self-imposed deadline.