US army official: Force size will shrink in 2006

The top US commander in Iraq predicted on Thursday that the size of the US fighting force will shrink this year, although he said he had not made new recommendations to his Pentagon bosses on the size and timing of any cuts. "I'm confident that we'll be able to continue to take reductions over the course of this year," Army Gen. George Casey told a Pentagon news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at his side. Rumsfeld said Casey had not yet had sufficient time to consult with the new Iraqi government, but that in any case the size of the US force is likely to rise and fall in coming months, depending on political and security conditions.