Bush Says He Will Protect U.S. Troops, But Not Provoke War With Iran
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2007 President Bush said today he will do whatever it takes to protect U.S. troops in Iraq, and that he is not provoking war with Iran in doing so.
U.S. officials know for certain that the “Quds Force,” an elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that carries out operations outside of Iran, has supplied sophisticated, armor-piercing improvised explosive devices to insurgents in Iraq, Bush said in a news conference at the White House.
He said he does not know whether or not top Iranian officials told the Quds Force to supply the explosives, he said.
“Whether (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad ordered the Quds Force to do this, I don't think we know,” Bush said. “But we do know that they're there. And I intend to do something about it. And I've asked our commander to do something about it, and we're going to protect our troops.
“What matters is … that we're responding,” Bush said.
Top military officials in Baghdad briefed reporters on background Feb. 11 that they have recovered weapons and ammunition with specific Iranian manufacturing markings. Slides were release showing mortar shells, explosives and rocket-propelled grenades. At the briefing, the officials said that the highest levels of the Iranian government were involved in the weapons smuggling into Iraq.
Bush discounted reporters’ questions asking if the administration was trying to justify military action against Iran.
“The idea that somehow we're manufacturing the idea that the Iranians are providing IEDs is preposterous,” Bush said.
“My job is to protect our troops. And when we find devices (in Iraq) that are hurting our troops, we're going to do something about it, pure and simple,” he said.
“To say it is provoking Iran … is just a wrong way to characterize the commander in chief's decision to do what is necessary to protect our soldiers in harm's way,” Bush said.
According to news reports, more than 170 U.S. forces’ deaths have been linked to the Iranian-made explosively formed projectile or penetrator, designed to penetrate armor more effectively at long distances.
In recent developments, insurgents have been using the EFPs in IEDs. The bombs are effective in penetrating up to eight inches of reinforced concrete or three inches of hardened steel armor.