WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama reportedly told the top military commander in Iraq that some U.S. forces should be pulled out of Iraq and deployed to Afghanistan.
At their July meeting in Baghdad, Gen. David Petraeus did not disclose his opinion on moving troops from one war to the other, according to an article in the Sept. 8 issue of the New Yorker magazine.
But Petraeus will soon be in a position to oversee such a move if President Bush decides to shift some forces.
Petraeus takes over U.S. Central Command next month, where he will have responsibility for military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and the Middle East. In the meantime, he is expected to recommend a modest cut in troop levels in Iraq to the president in the next few weeks, a reflection of the improved security situation.
There are currently 15 combat brigades in Iraq and a total of 146,000 troops, including tens of thousands that perform support, rather than direct combat, functions.
Obama has made bolstering the war effort in Afghanistan a central campaign point and has criticized the Bush administration for diverting troops and attention to Iraq.
"I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan," the Illinois senator said in his nomination-acceptance speech in Denver on Thursday.
Petraeus told Obama his goal was to get U.S. forces out of the daily Iraq fight as soon as possible and said military commanders needed politicians to give them the flexibility to manage the pace of the drawdown, the magazine reported.
The magazine describes the meeting based on interviews with Petraeus and Sen. Jack Reed (D., R.I.).
Obama has called for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops along a 16-month timeline. He favors leaving a force behind to help counter terrorists, protect U.S. facilities, and train Iraqis.