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Rumsfeld Rejects Calls for More US Troops in Iraq - 2003-08-25


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is rejecting calls by some prominent members of Congress for more troops to be sent to Iraq, saying U.S. force levels there now are adequate.

Mr. Rumsfeld says if U.S. commanders in Iraq need more troops, then they will get them.

But speaking to a meeting of the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization in the southern state of Texas, Mr. Rumsfeld said at the moment, the nearly 140,000 American military personnel in Iraq are sufficient. "If at any time that were not the case, neither General Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, nor I would hesitate for a minute to recommend appropriate increases to the President of the United States. But absent such analysis, it seems to me that it would be a mistake to rush to such a conclusion," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld's comments came the day after several prominent U.S. Senators called for additional U.S. troops to be sent to Iraq.

Republican Senator John McCain, for example, told a television interviewer he believed at least one more division was need - or some 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers.

Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, meanwhile, charged U.S. forces were, in his words, "woefully underprepared" for the challenges confronting them in Iraq. He said in a television interview that 40,000 to 60,000 more troops were needed.

But Mr. Rumsfeld, in additional remarks at a Texas military base where he spoke to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, said that what he terms "solid progress" is being made in Iraq.

He said more and more loyalists of the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein are being detained daily in an effort to curb the ongoing violence. "I think characterizing it [situation] as deteriorating is a misunderstanding of what's taking place there," he said. "It's tough. There are setbacks. But there's solid progress being made."

Mr. Rumsfeld acknowledges that in addition to supporters of the former regime, terrorists coming into Iraq from neighboring countries are creating problems for the U.S.- led coalition.

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