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Rumsfeld: US Troops Committed to Providing Security in Iraq - 2003-05-15

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says U.S. troops are committed to providing security in Iraq and more soldiers will be moving into the streets in a visible show of force.

Mr. Rumsfeld says more military police and more troops will be flowing into Iraq in the coming days.

But speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld says it is part of a pre-planned force flow, not some sudden decision intended to respond to deteriorating security conditions.

He says the physical presence of troops in the streets of Baghdad and other cities will help show the people of Iraq that the United States is committed to creating a safe environment.

"The intention on the part of the commanders there is to provide security in that country as best as is possible and create a presence, a physical presence in places so that people recognize that there are individuals in the coalition who are determined to see that the environment becomes permissive for the people of Iraq," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld spoke after a U.S. Army Commander in Baghdad disputed published reports suggesting he had been ordered to stop sending troops home and to step up patrols.

The Commander, Major General Buford Blount told reporters in a satellite tele-conference that only some unneeded military equipment was being sent back to the United States, not soldiers.

There are some 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, close to 50,000 in the Baghdad area. So far, only air and naval forces have been redeployed out of the region.

Mr. Rumsfeld says U.S. officials continue to closely monitor security and essential services around Iraq. He says most areas are getting better.

"A few areas have challenges, to be sure. But most areas are progressing, and a growing number actually have conditions that are today estimated to be better than prior to the recent war," he said.

In his remarks to reporters from Baghdad, General Blount insisted most of the insecurity is the responsibility of what he terms "a general criminal element."

But he also says there are more organized remnants of the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein who he charges are "trying to undermine the work" of coalition forces.