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US, Iraqi troops to go to Baghdad 'in fairly good numbers': Rumsfeld

This photo released by the US Marine corps 25 July 2006 shows Iraqi soldiers fire their AK-47s at stationary targets at a small arms range at Camp al-Asad in the city of Ramadi west of Baghdad 23 July 2006. Iraq's top Shiite politician Abdul Aziz al-Hakim said today that Iraqis must arm themselves and form their own defense committees to protect their homes and neighborhoods from violent groups. In a published interview for The Washington Post, he said the defense committees would benefit everybody in Iraq since they would be formed to protect neighborhoods, not beliefs. Photo courtesy of Sgt. Jim Goodwin and AFP.
by Jim Mannion
Washington (AFP) Jul 25, 2006
Thousands of US and Iraqi troops will be sent to Baghdad to beef up security under a plan being worked out by US commanders and Iraq's prime minister, US defense officials said.

"There are more Iraqi troops that will be going into Baghdad than US but both will be going in, in fairly good numbers, more than hundreds," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Maliki visited the Pentagon after meeting President George W. Bush at the White House earlier in the day to discuss the plans for beefed up security in Baghdad, the scene of escalating sectarian violence.

A senior US defense official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the plan involved the movement of thousands of additional US and Iraqi troops from around the country into Baghdad.

Eric Ruff, the Pentagon press secretary, said "no final decision has been made," adding that "there is a range of forces that will be arrayed within Iraq, and what that number is is still to be determined."

Rumsfeld said Maliki has been consulting closely with General George Casey, the commander of the 127,000 US troops in Iraq, on the new Baghdad security plan.

Maliki launched a security crackdown six weeks ago that put more US and Iraqi troops on the streets of Baghdad, but it has been engulfed by a rising tide of massacres, bombings, kidnappings and attacks.

Rumsfeld would not say whether the United States also was planning to deploy additional troops to Iraq.

"US troops levels, coalition troop levels will be determined by conditions on the ground," he said.

Casey and Maliki have "fashioned this proposal which calls for some increases in Iraqi security forces, a slight change in the mix, and some changes in the Ministry of Interior approach to things," Rumsfeld said.

In addition to more troops, the plan calls for embedding more US military police with the Iraqi police forces, widely regarded as corrupt and infiltrated by militia death squads.

Maliki told Rumsfeld that a comprehensive review of the police, which comes under the Ministry of the Interior, was under way, the senior defense official said.

Rumsfeld said stronger intelligence, public support and stronger links between the various security ministries and coalition forces were needed to deal with the situation.

Maliki "is focused very much on the reality ... that intelligence is central to success," he said.

Asked whether the situation now qualified as a civil war, Rumsfeld said it was different from other civil wars in that most of the violence is centered on Baghdad and a few other provinces.

"It's a highly concentrated thing, and it is clearly being stimulated by people who would like to have what is characterized as a civil war, and win it. But I'm not going to be the one to decide if we're in it," he said.

Rumsfeld and Maliki discussed the need for reconciliation as part of a broader political strategy to overcome sectarian strife.

But neither Iraqi proposals for an amnesty for insurgents who have killed US military personnel, nor Maliki's past objections to immunity for US military personnel from Iraqi law were mentioned, the defense official said.

Related Links

Iraqi Forces One Spot Of Good News Says Top General
Washington (UPI) Jul 26, 2006
A top Iraqi general has offered a sober assessment of Iraq's troubles but said one of the things that has gone right is the Iraqi military, which he believes will grow beyond the stated goal of 160,000.

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