Gates discusses us troop proposals for Iraq

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Pentagon (AP) A formal assessment of progress in Iraq is under way at the Pentagon.

It's being carried out in series of events that will include meetings, presentations and testimony to congress. The department is weighing not just military progress, but also political and economic issues.

It began yesterday with a videoconference during which top brass gave defense secretary Robert Gates their ideas on future troop strength in Iraq. Officials tell the Associated Press there were recommendations for a pause in troop cuts this summer lasting anywhere from four to eight weeks. The U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, has been backing a time-out in order to assess security trends.

Other unanswered question include how many troops will be able to come home after the pause and whether army deployments can be reduced from the current 15 months to 12 months.