US Defense Secretary says more troops - not American - needed in Iraq
United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday said more forces were needed in Iraq, but Iraqis and international troops, not more Americans, should be used to boost security.
Rumsfeld's acknowledgement came as he flew to the Middle East on a previously unannounced visit to meet with commanders and troops as Washington sought United Nations support for a US-led multinational force in Iraq.
Speaking to reporters travelling with him on his way to the region, Rumsfeld acknowledged the need for more security forces in Iraq but said US commanders believe there are sufficient US troops in the country.
"Should the total number go up for security? Yes, I think so, but I think it's going to be on the Iraqi side and on the international side more than the US side," AFP cited him as saying. "We already have a very large number there."
Asked how many international troops were needed he replied, "I don't know, maybe another division."
He said most of the security requirements would have to come from increasing the size of the Iraqi army and police.
"They ultimately are going to have to provide the security for that country rather than flooding it with American forces," he said.
Rumsfeld denied he was standing in the way of a larger US force saying he was simply following the professional advice of his commanders that the estimated 140,000 now in the country were sufficient.
"Some think they are wrong. I think they are right," he said. "I am not resisting anything." (Albawaba.com)
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