Bush To Call for Additional U.S. Forces To Support Iraqi Troops

By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington – In a televised address to the American people on the evening of January 10, President Bush is expected to announce the deployment of five additional U.S. Army brigades to Iraq to support Iraqi army operations in and around its capital, Baghdad, and two Marine brigades to Anbar province to assist in operations against al-Qaida.

According to a senior administration official speaking January 10, the approximately 21,000 additional U.S. forces will be participating in an Iraqi plan to bring security to Baghdad.  He said sectarian violence in Iraq is “synonymous with security in Baghdad since 80 percent of the sectarian violence occurs within a 30-mile radius of Baghdad.”

The five U.S. Army brigades are expected to remain under U.S. command but will “work with and in support of the Iraqi forces” charged with patrolling, operating checkpoints and demonstrating to the city’s residents that “Iraqi forces are now providing security in the country,” according to the official.

The two Marine brigades will assist Iraqi forces and local Sunni tribes in Anbar province who are resisting al-Qaida’s use of the area as its base of operations in Iraq, he added.

The official said the plan is “a different and better concept of operations,” than in the past.  He said it would be “adequately resourced first and foremost by the Iraqis,” as well as by the additional U.S. forces who were requested by the Iraqi security officials and commanders. Also, Iraqi rules of engagement will be clarified to give Iraqi commanders “full authority” to carry out their missions “free of political and sectarian influence.”

The official also indicated the president would comment on how U.S. hopes at the end of 2005 for progress in Iraq were “dashed” in 2006 due to the sectarian violence that “overwhelmed the political progress that we expected,” the official said, adding the situation in Iraq is “unacceptable to the American people and it's unacceptable to him [President Bush].  He will make clear that our current strategy in Iraq is not working.”

The official said another part of the new plan will be providing economic assistance and expanding provincial reconstruction teams charged with helping Iraqis build up local governments, assisting local reconciliation efforts and providing local economic assistance.

Two conclusions resulting from Bush’s recent consultations and review of U.S. policy in Iraq are “there are no silver bullets” instantly to solve the problem and that “America cannot afford to fail” in Iraq, the official said.

Bush also plans to say that in combating sectarian violence, the Iraqi people themselves “will have to decide whether they want to live together in peace,” and the Iraqi government will need to “step up” and bring security to its citizens, the official said.

USINFO will publish a summary and a transcript of the president’s speech as soon as possible after the televised address.