New report: US not to sustain current occupation force in Iraq beyond March 2004
The United States will not be able to sustain its current occupation force in Iraq without expanding the overall size of the military, ending other international tasks or rescinding troop rotation rules, according to a new congressional report.
The Congressional Budget Office warned in its report due for release Wednesday, that if the current policy of keeping army units in a war zone no longer than one year is preserved, the US Army "would be unable to sustain" its present Iraq contingent "beyond about March 2004."
The report, released Tuesday, was requested by Sen. Robert Byrd, one of Congress' most outspoken critics of Bush administration policy in Iraq. In remarks on the Senate floor, Byrd said the report "is quantified evidence that the long-term occupation is straining our forces close to the breaking point."
More than 180,000 US troops are at present deployed in Iraq and other Gulf states.
Relying on existing soldiers serving one-year tours would cost as little as $8 billion per annum, but would mean the force would steadily shrink as soldiers were rotated out of Iraq, the study said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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