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Rumsfeld on Iraq: Some Answers 'Unknowable'

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2003 – The Defense Department cannot answer how much a war on Iraq might cost or how many troops it would take to pacify the country afterward, because the answers are "unknowable," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today.

He said too many variables are involved to make any kind of helpful estimate.

"We don't know if a war would last six days, six weeks or six months," he said during a Pentagon news conference. DoD officials have looked at any number of scenarios, he noted, but there are so many variables that costs and troop numbers are hard to pin down.

Among the variables Rumsfeld cited were if Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction. That would slow down any war and kill thousands of Iraqis. Decontamination and cleanup would add millions to any equation.

Finding and destroying Hussein's weapons of mass destruction would add to the cost.

DoD planners do not know if there would be ethnic strife following the fall of Hussein.

"People trying to give single-point answers to questions like that will be very sorry," he said.

It's the same with the number of troops needed. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki said Feb. 25 it would take "several hundreds of thousands" of U.S. troops to occupy Iraq after a war. Rumsfeld said that is not the case. Many countries have already offered to assist the coalition after hostilities, he pointed out.

He also said it's hard to believe patrolling the country would take more people than subduing it in the first place.

Rumsfeld warned reporters not to read too much into forces flowing to the region. "What it signals is the president has asked us to flow forces in support of diplomacy," he said. "The purpose of flowing forces is to demonstrate the seriousness and purpose of the international community, and that's exactly what is happening."

Finally, Rumsfeld dismissed reports that Iraq has volunteered to dismantle its al Samoud 2 missiles. "This is exactly what's been going on for years," he said. "(The Iraqis) refuse to cooperate, don't cooperate, drag it out, wait until someone finally nails them with one little piece of the whole puzzle, and refuse to do anything about it. And then, finally, when they see the pressure building,say, 'Well, maybe we'll do something about that.'"

He said this doesn't change the pattern at all. The United States wants to see full cooperation from Iraq and that just isn't happening, the secretary said. "The answer is they have not decided to cooperate," he said.

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