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Wolfowitz Says U.S. Seeks Allied Relief for Forces in Iraq

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2003 – The United States is seeking support to relieve coalition forces of some of their commitments in Iraq, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told a House committee June 18, stating that "we need help from our allies" and "we are actively seeking it."

Wolfowitz testified to the House Armed Services Committee that in coming weeks and months the U.S. will see "more and more contributions from other countries."

Wolfowitz, joined by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told committee members that the U.S. is soliciting countries for both peacekeeping and combat forces. He added that ultimately CENTOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks would decide what kinds of forces actually are useful.

"Not everything that everybody offers us can be used, especially when we're still in this kind of mixed environment," he explained.

He told the committee that the United Kingdom and Poland have each made public their intention to lead a peacekeeping division, staffed by their personnel and personnel of other coalition countries, including some that did not join the coalition initially.

He said that among those that have publicly indicated a willingness to participate are Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Denmark, Ukraine and Hungary, adding that "we expect a number of other countries to announce their participation in coming days and weeks."

In addition, Pace said there are commitments from coalition forces that could offer some relief to U.S. forces. "There's another 10,000 or so troops that are being discussed by various nations," he said. "But we have about 20,000 additional coalition troops that have been volunteered by countries to go to theater within the next 60 to 90 days."

During his testimony, Wolfowitz emphasized that there's been "great progress" in stabilizing "some areas" of Iraq, but he also cautioned that the U.S. soldiers continue to "face an adaptive and determined enemy."

That enemy, he said, even though defeated on the conventional battlefield, is "intent on killing Americans and Iraqis and disrupting the establishment of order in Iraqi society and the process of building a new and free country."

The deputy secretary said, however, "We will eliminate those elements, but it will take time. How long is something that is difficult or indeed impossible to predict."

Wolfowitz told the committee the Defense Department is working to manage deployments in Iraq and elsewhere "as effectively as possible."

He said the Defense Department is taking into account all risks involved: "the operational risk, the warfighting risk, and the force management risk -- the risk imposed when our personnel are pushed too hard, too long."

Pace noted that two weeks ago he had lunch and breakfast with troops in the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq.

"They're wonderful soldiers," he said. "They do look forward to the day they can come home, but they also understand that there's a mission to complete."

Determining who comes home and when is also an issue on the Pentagon's agenda. Wolfowitz told the committee the military needs a rotation policy that gives troops clarity as to "how long they're going to be there."

"I think if they have clarity, they can live with difficult circumstances," he said.

Wolfowitz said that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has asked Franks to provide a clear recommendation on when troops in the 1st Marine Division and the 3rd Infantry Division can expect to return home.

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