US could speed troop drawdown in Iraq, general says

US could speed troop drawdown in Iraq, general says Washington  - The top US general in Iraq said Tuesday the US could draw down its troop levels faster than planned if the elections scheduled for January go smoothly, The New York Times reported.

General Ray Odierno said in an interview with the newspaper that the force could be reduced to 50,000 before the scheduled withdrawal of combat troops due to be completed by the end of August 2010 if Iraqis are ready to take over more responsibility for security. Under the current plan, about 50,000 soldiers would be left in Iraq in non-combat roles.

The move would allow more troops to be moved to Afghanistan, where attention has shifted as the administraton of President Barack Obama reviews its approach following a report by the top commander there that outlined a bleak situation.

The top US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, reportedly warned the president earlier this month that without a swift revamping of the approach to Afghanistan, NATO was at risk of losing.

Obama is weighing whether to add as many as 40,000 additional US forces in Afghanistan on top of the roughly 60,000 already there. (dpa)