President Bush has accepted the recommendation of his senior civilian and military advisers to reduce the number of American troops in Iraq by 8,000 in the early months of next year.
The reduction will begin with a Marine Corps battalion set to leave this fall from Anbar Province, once the center of the antigovernment insurgency.
Mr. Bush announced his decision on future force levels in Iraq, which includes withdrawing a full brigade of combat troops in the first few weeks of 2009, in an address on Tuesday to the National Defense University here. The text of his speech was released late Monday by the White House.
Neither the Marine battalion nor the Army brigade will be replaced, leaving the American combat force in Iraq at 14 brigades. After other support and logistics units are withdrawn under the new orders, the American troop levels in Iraq would drop to about 138,000 by March, still several thousand more than were there in January 2007, when Mr. Bush announced the “surge” that brought the total over 160,000.