No Plans for Long-term U.S. Bases in Iraq, Rumsfeld Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq, Dec. 23, 2005 The United States has not discussed basing American troops in Iraq, and would do so only following negotiations with the new Iraqi government, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.
"At the moment, there are no plans for long-term bases in the country," Rumsfeld told a Marine during a question and answer session here today.
The secretary said the subject has not been discussed because until the most recent election, there was no one to speak with. He said the United States has been working with successive transitional governments in Iraq about American presence in the country. The U.S. military has transferred 17 bases to the Iraqi military in the past few months.
It will be some months before the new Iraqi government is set up and ready to enter these discussions, Rumsfeld said. The United States would base troops in the nation only if it would be mutually beneficial, he said.
The secretary spoke generically about U.S. troop-basing decisions. He said the United States only places troops in areas where they are welcome and needed. He pointed to the recent agreement with Afghanistan as an example. The Afghan people do not believe that their armed forces or police can yet handle the security challenge in the nation. Afghan leaders want a strategic partnership with the United States, and this means a U.S. presence in the country for some time. Rumsfeld was quick to point out that this does not mean permanent bases.
Rumsfeld said he did not know if the Iraqi people even want American forces to remain after the mission is complete. If they were to want American forces to remain, he said, he does not envision any permanent presence. He said any U.S. force in the country would have to fit in to the overall global military footprint and contribute to U.S. aims and needs.