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Report: Pentagon Study Supports Long-Term Military Option in Iraq


The Washington Post reports a Pentagon study will likely recommend a brief increase in U.S. troops in Iraq, followed by a long-term commitment to training Iraqis to handle security.

The newspaper says the military review came up with three options on Iraq. The first, dubbed "Go Big," would see an increase in troops. The second, "Go Long," envisions a reduction in force, but a longer time in Iraq. The third, "Go Home", would be a withdrawal.

The Post says the study's recommendation likely will be a combination of the different options, with U.S. forces increased by about 20,000-30,000 troops for a short period to help curtail sectarian violence. Forces would then be cut from the current level of about 140,000 to about 60,000 as U.S. forces train an Iraqi army. Planners say that should take another five to ten years.

President Bush, speaking in Indonesia Monday, said he has not decided whether to increase or decrease troop levels in Iraq. He said is waiting to hear from a variety of sources, including the U.S. military.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said U.S. troop presence would be based on conditions on the ground and military recommendations. He said the U.S. military does have the ability to put more forces on the ground if needed, but added that speculation on what will be done is premature.

The "Go Big" option involves a classic counterinsurgency campaign to break the cycle of sectarian and insurgent violence in Iraq. That would require several hundred thousand additional U.S. and Iraqi troops as well as a heavily armed Iraqi police force. The Washington Post story quotes Pentagon sources as saying that option has been all but rejected because there are not enough soldiers in the U.S. military to carry it out, and Iraqi forces are not effective enough.

The third strategy calls for a swift withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Pentagon group that authored the review says that would most likely push Iraq into all-out civil war.

The White House and the bipartisan Iraq Study Group are also looking at possible options and recommendations for U.S. strategy in Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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