- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Wednesday he saw no need to send more
troops to Iraq, despite the U.N. headquarters bombing, which analysts cited
as the latest example of the U.S. failure to create order in the country.
- Rumsfeld told a news conference in Honduras that top
U.S. generals in Iraq saw no need to boost troop levels. He said Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz had spoken with U.S. military commanders
there, "and they reiterated their belief that the size of the force
in Iraq is appropriate today."
- "And, at the moment, the conclusion of the responsible
military officials is that the force levels are where they should be,"
- Rumsfeld's comments in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa,
one stop on a Latin American trip, came as analysts said tens of thousands
more troops were needed in Iraq.
- The United States has 139,000 in Iraq, with another 24,000
from other countries, primarily Britain, U.S. Central Command said. And
U.S. officials are turning to Iraqi security personnel, rather than American
troops, to guard facilities such as water and power plants and foreign
- "It's hard to escape the conclusion that we need
more forces," said analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute.
"The pattern in Iraq doesn't suggest confidence about our ability
to pacify the country."
- "We need more troops there to establish a secure
and safe environment," added former Pentagon official Michele Flournoy
of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
- Compared to the local population and size of the territory
involved, Flournoy said, "the density of troops that we have in Iraq
is much lower than in places like the early days of the (peacekeeping)
missions in Bosnia or Kosovo, where arguably we were facing a less volatile
and difficult security environment."
- REGULAR ATTACKS
- The truck bombing at the U.N. facility in Baghdad on
Tuesday killed at least 20 people, including U.N. special envoy Sergio
Vieira de Mello. It followed attacks on Iraqi infrastructure targets and
an Aug. 7 truck bombing at the Jordanian embassy that killed 17 people.
- U.S. troops also have faced regular guerrilla-style attacks
since President Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1.
- White House spokesman Scott McClellan said it was up
to U.S. commanders to decide "what resources are needed."
- "I will assure you of this: the president will make
sure that we are always providing the necessary resources to achieve our
objectives," McClellan said in Crawford, Texas, where Bush was vacationing.
- Thompson called for roughly 20,000 more U.S. troops in
Iraq, essentially one more Army division.
- Analyst Charles Pena of the Cato Institute said based
on an equation stemming from the number of troops that the British used
in Northern Ireland, a total of at least 240,000 U.S. troops was needed
- "We're at least 100,000 troops shy, and it could
be a whole lot more than that," Pena said.
- "And we're already concerned about how we would
maintain the current force inside Iraq, because we won't cut back on other
commitments, and we've only got so many active-duty and reserve units that
we can rotate in and out."
- U.S. officials cite commitments from about 30 nations
to provide 30,000 troops for a stabilization force, but some countries,
such as India, have balked.
- Former top State Department official Edward Walker of
the Middle East Institute said Tuesday's bombing may make civilians involved
in reconstruction less willing to go to Iraq.
- "The Pentagon is going to come down to a basic choice:
either you build up your own forces, or you encourage others to join you
by giving more authority to the U.N. ... or you watch the situation drag
on with very little progress," Walker said.
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