The Pentagon has approved a request by the new U.S. commander in Iraq for an extra 2,200 military police to help deal with an expected increase in detainees during the Baghdad security crackdown, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.
According to the AP, Gates also cited early indications that the Iraqi government is meeting the commitments it made to bolster security. "We're right at the very beginning," he told a Pentagon news conference. "But I would say that based in terms of whether the Iraqis are meeting the commitments that they've made to us in the security arena, I think that our view would be so far, so good."
Gates said that the request for extra MPs is in addition to the 21,500 combat soldiers that President Bush is sending for the Baghdad security plan, along with 2,400 support troops.
Gordon England, the deputy defense secretary, told Congress earlier this week that the number of required support troops could reach 7,000. "That's a new requirement by a new commander," Gates said of the request for more MPs by Gen. David Petraeus, who assumed command in Baghdad last month.
The day-to-day commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, has recommended that the higher troop level be maintained until February 2008, The New York Times reported on its Web site Wednesday night. Odierno said the extra troops are needed to support a sustained effort to win over the Iraqi populace.