Iraq: US general expects troop levels to drop

The top US military commander in Iraq said Friday that he will make recommendations in the next few weeks about additional troop withdrawals from Iraq, and he expects troop levels to drop back to what has been the average level of 138,000 by early February. Speaking from Iraq, Gen. George Casey told Pentagon reporters that by late next fall, the Iraqi military should be able to largely take the lead in the country's defense, with continued support from US and coalition transition teams. Iraqi police forces, he said, are lagging behind that, and would be able to take charge of internal security by late next year or early 2007.