WASHINGTON (AP) — If violence in Iraq gets worse, U.S.
military commanders will get the troops they need to deal with it,
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday.
Coalition forces fought on two fronts yesterday, battling a
Shiite-inspired uprising in southern Iraq and Sunni insurgents in
the city of Fallujah in clashes that have killed up to 30 Americans
and 130 Iraqis in the past three days.
Commanders are studying ways they might increase troops in Iraq
if violence should spread much more widely, defense officials
Among the options: Troops already inside Iraq could be moved
around. Troops eventually headed for Iraq, now training in nearby
Kuwait, could be sent early. More troops could be sent from the
United States — either reservists or active-duty troops who
have already served.
Officials said they also are talking to six more countries about
the possibility of contributing forces. Such talks have continued
throughout the campaign but have brought in just 24,000
international troops, compared with 135,000 Americans in Iraq.
“I’m fearful of sending more American troops who
will be drawn from the guard and reserve forces once again,”
said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). “That’s when we’re
going to exacerbate what I believe is a looming retention and
Nelson said, however, that American forces must remain
Noting the Pentagon may have to send more troops, Sen. Chuck
Hagel (R-Neb.) said, “The bottom line is that we have no good
options. This is complicated, and it is unpredictable and very
Sen. John Abizaid, the head of Central Command, and other senior
generals ordered their staffs to study options after the outbreak
of violence from a previously relatively quiet sector of Iraq:
members of the Shiite sect of Islam.
Most violence so far has been attributed to Sunni Muslims
— either members of Saddam’s Sunni-led government, or
extremists who follow al-Qaida.
Rumsfeld said commanders on the scene, including Abizaid, are
constantly reviewing the situation and troop needs.
“They are the ones whose advice we follow on these
things,’’ Rumsfeld said during an appearance in
Norfolk, Va., with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop
“They will decide what they need, and they will get what
they need,’’ Rumsfeld said.
The 135,000 total of U.S. troops in Iraq is “an unusually
high level,’’ Rumsfeld said. American officials had
expected the figure to go down to about 115,000 when a series of
rotations of new troops into and older troops out of the country
was complete, Rumsfeld said.