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Conditions in Iraq to Dictate Troop Numbers, Rumsfeld Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2005 – A Defense Department report expected to go to Congress soon will address stability and security in Iraq, but won't deliver force-level projections, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Pentagon reporters today.

"All we can do is repeat the truth. And the truth is that the situation in Iraq and our force levels are going to depend on a variety of variables, and the decisions as to the size of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq will be a function of the conditions on the ground," the secretary said.

Conditions on the ground will reflect the intensity of the insurgency, political progress being made and success in training and equipping Iraqi security forces, Rumsfeld said.

Iraqi security forces are coming into their own, with more than 171,000 now trained and equipped, the secretary said. As their capabilities increase, these forces will take on more responsibility for their own security. It won't happen at all once, he said, but will depend on the security situation in different parts of the country.

The secretary called political progress in Iraq "excellent" and said he's encouraged by the inclusiveness being demonstrated by Iraq's different groups as they build a new government. The crafting of a constitution, referendum on the constitution and national elections "will give added legitimacy to the Iraq government as we go into the next year," the secretary said.

As the Iraqi people see this progress and recognize the role they are playing in it, they will become less tolerant of the violence insurgents and terrorists are spreading throughout the country, Rumsfeld said.

"Increasingly, they will see that they have participated in their own political progress," he said. "And increasingly they will become angered and not willing to tolerate the number of deaths of Iraqi people ... being caused by the insurgents and the terrorists. And a lot of them have been killed by the insurgents and terrorists."

This is expected to lead to what Rumsfeld calls a "tipping point" in the war, with Iraqis putting their support behind their new, representative government.

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