"This amounts to about 8,000 additional American troops returning home without replacement," said President Bush. The number represents a smaller drawdown than anticipated.
President Bush made his decision after consultations with top military advisors who offered differing opinions on the pace of withdrawal.
Some were concerned that too many troops removed too fast could reverse the success of the surge. The president chose a middle ground.
While thousands of troops leave Iraq, the president announced that a Marine battalion that was scheduled to deploy there will instead head to Afghanistan, followed by an Army combat brigade in January.
The move is intended to address concerns that Afghanistan is now become the central fight in the war on terror after a resurgence in violent attacks by the Taliban and Al Qaeda. "Afghanistan's success is critical to the security of America and our partners in the free world. And for all the good work we have done in that country, it is clear we must do even more," said President Bush.
President Bush hinted that more troops could come home in the first half of 2009; a decision that will ultimately be made by the next president.