U.S. Not 'Bogged Down' in Iraq, Rumsfeld Asserts
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2003 The United States military "is not bogged down" in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a national television audience today.
Appearing on the Washington-based "Face the Nation" news show, Rumsfeld was responding to critics who say U.S. planners have failed to provide enough forces to oversee security and rebuilding efforts in post-war Iraq.
To the contrary, the defense secretary declared, U.S. projects aimed at getting Iraq back on its feet since the May 1 end of major combat operations "are moving at a rapid pace."
Among the "truly impressive accomplishments" made in Iraq during the past four and a half months, Rumsfeld cited the establishment of local governments in more than 90 percent of the country, the completion of 600 reconstruction projects, and the reopening of all universities, schools and hospitals.
And today, the defense secretary noted, up to 56,000 Iraqis are performing police, military, border guard, site protection and civil defense duties. Another 14,000 to 15,000 Iraqis are now in training, he added.
Rumsfeld said his field commanders disagree with critics' views that not enough American troops are in Iraq to handle needed duties. Senior U.S. military commanders in Iraq say they don't need more troops, Rumsfeld asserted.
However, if those commanders decided more American troops were required in Iraq, Rumsfeld said they'd be provided "in five minutes."
Appearing on ABC's "This Week" television news show later in the day, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, echoed Rumsfeld's views on U.S. troop levels in Iraq.
Iraqis "are taking more responsibility for their security," Myers said. "That's exactly the way it should be."
The chairman said U.S. casualties in Iraq, while unfortunate, are an unavoidable part of America's war against global terrorism.
Regarding news reports saying U.S. troops in Iraq had fired on Iraqi police Sept. 12, killing nine of them and one Jordanian security man, Myers noted the incident is under investigation. He said U.S. authorities will take steps to ensure such an event doesn't happen again.
Yet, regardless of pitfalls, "We have to be successful in Iraq; we have no choice," the four-star general declared. "Defeat," he emphasized, "is not an option."
On "Face the Nation," Rumsfeld noted the U.S. objective in the post-Saddam era "is to not spend a long time in Iraq."
Rather, he said, "the goal is to (assist) transition from a liberation activity to a situation where the Iraqi people take responsibility for their own security and get on a path towards representative government."