Third International Division Possible in Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 30, 2003 A third international division- sized unit could possibly be stood up in Iraq in the future, DoD officials said during a press conference today.
Two divisions, led by Britain and Poland, are already scheduled to start moving into Iraq in July and August. Joint Chiefs chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said these 20,000 international troops will take up duties in the country in September. Joint Staff officials said the United States in negotiating with many other nations for the third division-sized unit.
There are just under 150,000 American troops in Iraq with just over 12,000 coalition forces today, Myers said. U.S. leaders have been in discussions with more than 20 nations. The effort started soon after hostilities began in March, Joint Staff officials said.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that U.S. Central Command is examining the situation in Iraq and is working with the services on rotation plans for U.S. service members. He said the study will be ready by mid-July.
CENTCOM will examine how long each American unit has been in country, the rotation plans and the timing for bringing in coalition forces. Lt. Gen. John Abizaid, whom the Senate confirmed as the next Central Command chief, will also examine the tactical situation and determine the number of forces needed and the mix, Rumsfeld said.
"I can say this: We do not know, and have not had, any requests for anything that has not been supplied," Rumsfeld said. "And we have (no troop request) pending."
Rumsfeld reiterated his disagreement with the press using the term "guerrilla war" to describe enemy actions in Iraq. "I don't use the phrase 'guerrilla war,' because there isn't one," Rumsfeld said.
The enemy in Iraq is made up of many different entities, he pointed out. There are the remnants of the Hussein regime the Fedayeen Saddam, Baath Party loyalists, Republican Guards. Then there are foreign fighters who came into the country just to go after the coalition. Then there are common criminals that Saddam let loose before the coalition approached Baghdad, he noted.
"They are all slightly different in why they are there and what they are doing," Rumsfeld said. "That doesn't make it anything like a guerrilla war or an organized resistance.
"They are functioning more like terrorists," the secretary added.
He also doesn't like the term "quagmire." He said Iraq is evolving from a totalitarian regime to a democracy. The United States went through such a process when it achieved independence. "What happened in Eastern Europe? he asked. "Were they in a quagmire when the Wall fell down?"
Rumsfeld mentioned editorial cartoons showing the news media asking, "Is it Vietnam yet?"
"It isn't," he said. "It's a different era, it's a different place."