Petraeus says he is unlikely to recommend another troop buildup in Iraq

The top US military commander in Iraq said Wednesday that he is unlikely to recommend another troop buildup in Iraq, even if security should deteriorate after the extra American soldiers return home in coming months. US Army Gen. David Petraeus told a House panel that such a move would be considered a last resort, in part because of the strain it would place on the Army. First, the military could try to reallocate existing troops to respond to any hot spots. It also would rely more on Iraqi forces, which are improving in capability, he said. "That would be a pretty remote thought in my mind," he said of reinstating last year's influx of troops. Petraeus has recommended to President George W. Bush that the US complete, by the end of July, withdrawal of the 20,000 troops sent to Iraq last year to calm the violence there. Beyond that, the general proposed a 45-day evaluation period, to be followed by an indefinite period of assessment before he would recommend further pullouts. "We think it makes sense to have some time, to let the dust settle, perhaps to do some adjustment of forces, re-evaluation," he told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.