September 26, 2006
The recent column "Time to change top leadership" contains the erroneous claims that "Secretary Rumsfeld successfully opposed the troop levels that military planners said would be necessary for the Iraq operation and the additional force needed to stabilize Iraq never materialized."
General Tommy Franks, the former commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate in July 2003, when he was still in command in Iraq, that "There has been the suggestion that perhaps there should be more troops. And in fact, I can tell you that if more troops are necessary, this secretary's going to say yes."
The secretary has regularly asked Gen. John Abizaid, the current commander of CENTCOM, and Gen. George Casey, the commander of Multinational Force - Iraq, if they have all the necessary resources, and, if not, what more is required to carry out a successful campaign. Commanders in the field have consistently said that they need more Iraqi forces, not American troops.
There are currently some 300,000 trained and equipped Iraqi Security Forces. There are 106 Iraqi army battalions currently taking part in combat operations. In fact, Iraqi forces now lead nearly 75 percent of combat operations in their respective areas. The capability of the Iraqi Security Forces continues to grow.
Bryan Whitman, Deputy Assistant Sec. of Defense, Washington, DC
Editor's Note: The editorial referred to appeared in the Macon Telegraph, Sept. 13, 2006.