Tuesday, March 14, 2006

US to INCREASE troop levels in Iraq

CBS Evening News just reported that they have found out from Pentagon officials that the US is INCREASING the troop levels in Iraq in response to the current security situation.

I'm sure General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will point to this as further evidence that things are 'going very, very well' in Iraq.

As with every other statement and speech by Bush, this directly contradicts his speech yesterday on the transfer to Iraqi forces.

U.S. Troop Levels In Iraq May Rise (via CBS)

March was supposed to be the month when the U.S. commander in Iraq made a recommendation to pull more troops out of Iraq. Instead, he has asked for more troops to be sent in, reports CBS News National Security correspondent David Martin.
U.S. officials say Gen. George Casey asked for more troops because of a convergence of events, and danger, surrounding the third anniversary of the American invasion.
In the last 24 hours at least 87 bodies have been found in Baghdad, most shot dead execution style, and Iraq's interior ministry has announced it will once again ban private vehicles from Baghdad in an effort to hold down the violence.

Pentagon officials say they expect the extra troops to remain in Iraq about a month. So it's a small increase and it's supposed to be temporary, but putting troops in instead of taking them out does not sound like progress, Martin says.

Rumsfeld Hints Troop Level May Increase Slightly in Iraq (via NYT)
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld gave a strong hint today that American troop levels in Iraq may be increased in coming days, perhaps only slightly and temporarily.
Mr. Rumsfeld did not specify which holiday or pilgrimage was prompting the security concern, but many Muslims observe a holiday commemorating the birth of the prophet Mohammad, which falls this year on April 10. Coincidentally, this year it comes one day after a secular national holiday on April 9, the day the government of Saddam Hussein fell three years ago.

Mr. Rumsfeld's comments seemed to suggest the possibility of a higher American profile in the wake of continuing sectarian violence that senior military officials say now poses a greater security threat than terrorists or the insurgency. Until the recent surge of violence, there had been talk of additional, incremental reductions in the numbers of American forces this spring and summer.

Officials said no final decision on troop movements had yet been made by Mr. Rumsfeld or Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior commander in Iraq. Three officials involved in the discussions said that a leading proposal was to send a battalion-sized group — about 800 troops.

"We move troops in and out depending on events, like we did for the referendum, the election," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "General Casey may decide he wants to bulk up slightly for the pilgrimage."

Pentagon civilian and military officials said any extra forces that might be ordered into Iraq would come from an armored brigade of about 3,500 to 4,000 troops now stationed in Kuwait for just such a need if conditions deteriorated.

If the troops are ordered into Iraq, this would be the first time the brigade, a unit of the First Armored Division, left its standby status and entered the fight.

One reason for concern, Mr. Rumsfeld said, was the number of pilgrims from Iran who come to Iraq. President Bush, Mr. Rumsfeld and other officials have said in recent days that Iran is intervening in Iraqi affairs and fomenting attacks.
Interesting how Rumsfeld ties the increase in troops to concerns about Iran (my emphasis in quote).


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