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Number of Troops in Iraq to be 'Event Driven,' Chairman Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Oct. 20, 2003 – The decision on how many American troops will be needed in Iraq will be "event driven" and will not be made in some "mindless way," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said Oct. 19.

In an interview, Myers said reports of a DoD plan to cut U.S. troop levels in Iraq to 50,000 by the middle of 2005 are not true.

The chairman said U.S. Central Command chief Army Gen. John Abizaid is responsible for planning and recommending troop levels along with the Coalition Provisional Authority. He said the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff discuss troop levels all the time, and that the United States is not on a timeline.

"We're going to be event driven," he said. "The events on the ground will define how many forces we have there at any given time."

One goal is to train and equip more Iraqi forces. More than 70,000 Iraqis now are involved with the police, the border guards, the infrastructure protection force, the new Iraqi army and the Civil Defense Force. These forces are taking over much of the security work that needs to happen in a country of 23 million people. Myers said the coalition is looking to accelerate the training the Iraqis receive so more trained security forces can take over the mission faster.

Another consideration affecting the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is international contributions. There are 23,000 international soldiers in two multinational divisions in Iraq.

The number of Iraqis and the number of international forces available will affect the number of Americans in country, the chairman said.

Myers said Central Command, the Joint Staff and the services are looking forward. "We get updates on the estimates of troop requirements periodically," he said. Another major estimate will come in December, and that will help the department make decisions about the number of troops needed in Iraq in 2004.

"The notion that there is some plan and we're going to march to that plan in some mindless way is to be disabused," Myers said. "That's not that at all."

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