Bush Sending Additional U.S. Forces To Support Iraqi Troops

By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington – In a televised address to the American people January 10, President Bush announced 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.

Bush said the deployment of more than 20,000 additional U.S. forces in support of an Iraqi plan to bring security “will change America’s course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.”

The president said security is the “most urgent priority,” especially in Baghdad because 80 percent of the sectarian violence occurs within a 30-mile [48-kilometer] radius of the capital.

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 who are charged with patrolling, setting up checkpoints and demonstrating to the city’s residents that Iraqi forces are providing security.

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

Bush ascribed the failure of previous attempts to secure Baghdad to an inadequate number of Iraqi and American troops available to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorist and insurgent forces, as well as “too many restrictions on the troops we did have.”  He said U.S. military commanders reported that the new Iraqi security plan addresses those mistakes and told him “this plan can work.”  Iraqi and American forces will be able to enter neighborhoods where political and sectarian interference had previously prevented them.

Bush added that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.” 

The Iraqi government plans to take security responsibility for all of Iraq’s provinces by November, pass legislation to share the country’s oil revenues, undertake political reforms and spend $10 billion on reconstruction and infrastructure projects.

Earlier in the day, a senior administration official told reporters that the plan is “a different and better concept of operations,” than in the past.  It will 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.

Bush said initial U.S. hopes at the end of 2005 for political progress in Iraq were “overwhelmed” in 2006 by the country’s sectarian violence.  The current situation in Iraq is “unacceptable to the American people and it's unacceptable to me,” Bush said, adding that the current strategy in Iraq needs to be changed, and “[w]here mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.”

He said the Iraqi government is aware that “America’s commitment is not open-ended,” and if it does not follow through on its promises, “it will lose the support of the American people - and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people.”


The president also said the new plan will include additional economic assistance and doubling the number of provincial reconstruction teams charged with helping Iraqis build up local governments, assisting local reconciliation efforts and providing local economic assistance.

The official said that Bush drew two conclusions from recent consultations on and review of U.S. policy in Iraq: “there are no silver bullets” to solve the problem instantly and “America cannot afford to fail” in Iraq.

In combating sectarian violence, the president said only the Iraqi people themselves can end the violence by deciding to live together in peace, and that the Iraqi government “has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.”

He said Iraq’s moderate neighbors have a vested interest in its success and need to increase their support for its unity government, while also pledging to interrupt the flow of support to extremists from Iran and Syria.

Bush said “millions of ordinary people” in the Middle East and South Asia are “sick of violence and want a future of peace and opportunity for their children.”  They are looking at Iraq in order to see if the United States will withdraw or stand with the people of Iraq, he said.

Victory in Iraq will achieve “a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people,” the president said.

For additional information, see the transcript of the president’s speech, the White House fact sheet on the president's strategy, a transcript of the background briefing and Iraq Update.