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US Military Must Stand Ready To Face Threats Says Gates

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates(R), accompanied by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, smiles before speaking to the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC 07 February 2007. Top US military commanders have told President George W. Bush that his new Iraq strategy could fail without more civilian help in reconstruction efforts, the New York Times reported Wednesday. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 07, 2007
The United States has to boost its military machine to meet all threats and not just the war in Iraq, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday. "We need the full range of military capabilities. We need ... the ability for regular force-on-force conflicts, because we don't know what's going to develop in places like Russia and China, in North Korea, in Iran and elsewhere," he told the House of Representatives Armed Services committee.

He was defending the 2008 budget unveiled on Monday by US President George W. Bush which called for a mammoth 716.5 billion dollars to fund wars in Iraq and Afganistan as well as to pay for a major expansion of the US military.

Bush has pushed a new strategy to curb the violence in Iraq, which calls for 21,500 extra troops to be deployed in the country to secure the capital Baghdad, as well as troubled Anbar province.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace, told the House panel that while China posed no immediate threat, "we still need to watch what they're doing. Their recent anti-satellite test if of great concern."

Pace said the US military was preparing for several scenarios of regional crises.

"We looked at the possibility of renewed conflict in Korea; we looked at the possibility of one other potential event in Pacific region, which I'd prefer not to say publicly; and we looked at the possibility of one additional event in the Iraq region, using the plans that are on the shelf ..."

On Iraq, Gates said, as on Tuesday at a separate hearing in the Senate, that he was beginning to look at contingency plans should the latest strategy fail.

"I have asked that we begin to look at other contingencies and other alternatives," he said Wednesday.

"I think that the Iraqis have a very good understanding at this point that their participation in this role and their role in this activity is critical to its success and that if they do not fulfil their commitments, that the United States as you quoted me as saying, is going to have to look at other alternatives and consequences," he said.

That could "include withholding financial assistance and other kinds of things, but also withholding forces," he added.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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