U.S. Troops Could Begin Coming Home in 2006

      National Security Advisor Stephan Hadley for President George W. Bush said that the U.S. may be able to withdrawal troops in Iraq next year if Iraqis continue to make progress in securing their country.

    The Associated Press reported that Hadley appeared on a round of talk shows Sunday, Dec. 4, to follow up on President Bush’s speech on Iraq at the U.S. Naval Academy last week. Hadley echoed Bush’s statement that decisions about troop withdrawals would be made when U.S. commanders felt Iraqis were ready to govern and protect themselves without U.S. help, but said that could come as early as 2006.

    On ABC’s "This Week," Hadley said, “We think that if… we continue to make the progress and the Iraqis continue to make the progress we’re making, we’ll be in a position sometime next year for us to for the commanders on the ground to make their assessments."

    Hadley’s statement comes at a time when many senators and representatives have been calling for a speedy troop withdrawal or at least a reduction of troops in Iraq.

    Sen. Barack Obama (D- Ill.) called for a troop reduction that would put Iraqi forces in the lead of their own security while Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and House minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), splitting call, support an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq.

    Bush, who continues on a downward slope in approval ratings, has rejected calls for troop reduction and immediate withdrawal.

    Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said Bush has an uphill struggle to convince Americans that he can be successful in Iraq. He added that civil war is a  possibility, Lugar said. "That would be catastrophic, not only for Iraq but the Middle East and for our interests."