President George W. Bush, consulting military leaders on how to go forward in Iraq, is expected to hear deep concerns about the long-term impact on US forces of maintaining a heavy troop presence in Iraq in 2008 and beyond.
Iraq was to be the main topic at a meeting, scheduled for Friday, at the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
The Army and the Marine Corps have shouldered most of the burden in Iraq, creating strains that service leaders fear could hurt their recruiting as well as their preparedness for other military emergencies. The Joint Chiefs, however, were not expected to urge Bush to withdraw from Iraq entirely as many Democrats want.
Maj. Gen. Richard Sherlock, director of operational planning for the Joint Chiefs, told reporters that Friday's meeting in a secure conference room known as "the tank" would be the Joint Chiefs' opportunity to "provide the president with their unvarnished recommendations and their assessments of current operations" _ in particular the situation in Iraq.
It did not appear that the session was intended to work out a consensus military view on how long Bush should maintain the US troop buildup in Iraq or how soon to transition to Iraqi control of security.