"Dedicated to exposing the lies and impeachable offenses of George W. Bush"

US military opposed Bremer call for more Iraq troops
Yahoo News/AFP
January 9, 2006

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Paul Bremer, the former top civilian administrator in Iraq, called for more US troops in 2004, but the US military opposed him, the Pentagon said.

Bremer detailed the clash in a new book, "My Year in Iraq, The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope," reopening debate over the Pentagon's insistence on a small force even as a fierce insurgency took hold in Iraq.

Asked why President George W. Bush rejected the advice of his top civilian adviser in Iraq, a White House spokesman said US commanders were in the best position to judge force levels on the ground.

"The president believes that the decisions about our troop levels ought to be based on the recommendations of our military commanders who are on the ground in Iraq," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

Lawrence DiRita, a Pentagon spokesman, called Bremer's account "an interesting historical asterisk or data point as to what happened in May of 2004, but it's a little bit after the fact."

He confirmed that Bremer sent the Pentagon a memo in May 2004, about a month before he stepped down, arguing that a significantly larger US force was needed in Iraq.

"People are free to offer their views and certainly (Bremer) was free to offer his," said DiRita. "But it was not something he did, in terms of force levels, any other time besides this one time he acknowledged."

"That assessment was reviewed by the chairman (of the joint chiefs of staff) and other military commanders who came back and advised the secretary that where they were -- which at the time, as I said, was 18 brigades -- was appropriate," he said. "And that was the end of the matter."

Bremer's stance on troop levels was not publicly known at the time, but he caused a stir in October when he told a conference of insurance professionals: "We never had enough troops on the ground."

In an interview broadcast Sunday by NBC television, the career diplomat said he raised concerns about US force levels right from the start of his tenure as the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

He said that in May 2003 he sent Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a study by the Rand Corp. which said 500,000 troops would be needed to secure Iraq. He said he never received a response.

Bremer said he then raised his concerns with Bush, who said he would try to raise more troops from other countries.

In his book, Bremer wrote that in June 2003, he warned in a teleconference with Bush and other officials that the Pentagon was risking instability by withdrawing troops too quickly from Iraq.

He wrote that he said in a follow-up call with then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice: "The coalition's got about half the number of soldiers we need here, and we run a real risk of having this thing go south on us."

In November 2003, Bremer said he went to Vice President Dick Cheney with his worries about the push to reduce US force levels in early 2004.

Bremer said he felt the military was exaggerating the strength of the Iraqi security forces being trained.

"I said to the vice president, 'You know, I'm not sure that we really have a strategy for winning this war.' The vice president said to me, 'Well, I have similar concerns,'" Bremer told NBC.

Bremer wrote that in his May 2004 memo he asked Rumsfeld for one or two extra divisions for up to a year.

"I verified that the secretary received my message. I did not hear back from him," Bremer said.

Bremer also defended the decision to disband the Iraqi army in the months after the US invasion in 2003 -- a move which some commentators have branded as one of the biggest US blunders in Iraq.

"We would not countenance a huge, unrepresentative force that repressed Iraq's citizens and threatened her neighbors ... It was a recipe for civil war," he wrote.

DiRita said Pentagon officials had weighed the decision to disband the Iraqi army and in the end were comfortable with it.

The military is populated with morons. In reality, commanders on the ground were asking for more troops. The White House and Defense Department refused to listen. At one point 400 men were reponsible for patrolling 10,000 square miles. The commander begged for more troops.

400 soldiers cover 10,000 square miles
May 31, 2005: From last October to the end of April, there were about 400 soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division patrolling the northwest region, which covers about 10,000 square miles.

"Resources are everything in combat . . . there's no way 400 people can cover that much ground," said Maj. John Wilwerding, of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which is responsible for the northwest tract that includes Tal Afar.

Why does the US media let the military and White House lie to our faces?