Rumsfeld: No U.S. Troop Increase Foreseen for Iraq
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, Aug. 21, 2003 American military planners believe the current level of U.S. forces in Iraq is sufficient to accomplish the mission, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here Aug. 20.
The topic of U.S. troop strength in Iraq "is under continuous review," Rumsfeld, accompanied by Honduran President Ricardo Maduro Joest, pointed out to reporters during a press conference at the Honduran presidential offices.
The U.S. defense secretary, who had just concluded meetings with the Houduran president, Minister of Defense Federico Breve Travieso and other senior Honduran officials, said he'd just spoken to U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz about the Iraq troop issue. Wolfowitz, he noted, had just completed a conference call with U.S. military commanders in Iraq. Those commanders "reiterated their belief that the size of the forces in Iraq is appropriate today," Rumsfeld pointed out.
President George Bush, Rumsfeld also noted, has often said there would be "enough (U.S.) forces" available "to get the job done" in Iraq. And right now, U.S. force levels in Iraq "are where they should be."
If more troops are needed in Iraq, the secretary said, "Then the effort should be on developing additional Iraqi capabilities rather than additional (U.S. and coalition) capabilities beyond those that have been committed." Yet the issue of American troop strength in Iraq, he added, continues to be reviewed periodically.
Rumsfeld praised the U.S.-Honduran military partnership, noting that Honduras, along with two other Central American nations, is sending troops for peacekeeping duty in Iraq.
In fact, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador are sending a combined total of about 1,000 troops to Iraq, including about 350 troops from Honduras, U.S. defense officials said. News reports cite El Salvador also sending about 350 troops to Iraq, with Nicaragua providing around 250.
Earlier in the day Rumsfeld visited with about 500 U.S. Joint Task Force Bravo troops at Soto Cano, a Honduran air base.