WASHINGTON – Top
The hourlong videoconference marked the start of what will be a series of meetings, presentations and congressional testimony over the next two weeks that will assess the military, political and economic progress in .
During themeeting, Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, heard from the top commander in the Middle East, Adm. , and the U.S. commander in Iraq, .
Officials said little about the discussions, but there was no indication Petraeus had backed off his call for a brief pause in troop cuts after July in order to see what effect the lower force levels have on violence in Iraq.
The key questions that Petraeus will face — and that are still unanswered — include how long will the pause will have to last in order to assess the security trends, how many troops will be able to come home once that period is over and if that will allow the Pentagon to reduce Army deployments from the current 15 months to 12 months, beginning with those who head to war in August as hoped.
“This meeting was an opportunity for the secretary to be updated on the current thinking and analysis on the way ahead in Iraq from Admiral Fallon and,” said Geoff Morrell.