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WASHINGTON, DC - Sept. 06: Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., far right, before the Senate Armed Services hearing with members of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, on the commission's report. Partisans on both sides of the Iraq War debate stepped up their efforts Thursday to influence the public's assessment of President Bush's troop surge and the need for a continued massive U.S. military commitment in the year ahead. Democratic and Republican members of Senate and House committees involved in war policy reacted predictably to the latest assessment of the situation in Iraq, by a congressionally chartered commission on Iraq's security forces. The Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, chaired by retired Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones, found progress in the development of Iraq's military but significantly less success among its police units. Its report came two days after the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in its own assessment, said that security progress is uneven and most political goals that Bush set for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have not been met. The Jones group recommended a stepped-up transfer of internal security responsibility from U.S. forces to Iraqis, with U.S. to focus more on guarding Iraq's "porous" borders against the infiltration of enemy fighters and weapons, chiefly from Iran and Syria. "Significant reductions, consolidations and realignments would appear to be possible and prudent," said the report, without quantifying any recommended U.S. troop levels. Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., seized on this statement as support for his contention that U.S. troops can begin to come home in the coming months. He also questioned why many Iraqi units that are capable of leading operations are not doing so. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly).

WASHINGTON, DC - Sept. 06: Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., far right, before the Senate Armed Services hearing with members of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, on the commission's report. Partisans on both sides of the Iraq War debate stepped up their efforts Thursday to influence the public's assessment of President Bush's troop surge and the need for a continued massive U.S. military commitment in the...
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