April 10th, 2008 03:10 EST
Tours in Iraq will return to pre-surge levels
U.S. officials say President Bush plans to announce Thursday a reduction in U.S. Army combat tours in Iraq from 15 months to 12 months.
The officials say the move is meant to ease the strain of extended deployments on the U.S. military. It will bring U.S. Army rotations back to what they were before last year's U.S. troop surge in Iraq.
The shorter deployments will apply to troops sent to Iraq beginning in August, but not to troops already there.
President Bush is due to announce the move in a speech outlining his future Iraq policy.
His speech follows two days of congressional testimony by the top U.S. military commander in Iraq and the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad. General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker both said security in Iraq has improved, but it is fragile and reversible.
General Petraeus also said he is unlikely to call for another surge of U.S. forces in Iraq even if the security situation deteriorates. He has recommended suspending U.S. troops withdrawals from Iraq after July for at least 45 days, to allow the military to "consolidate and evaluate" recent gains.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.