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US Joint Chiefs Chairman Denies Deteriorating Security Prompted Request for International Troops in Iraq - 2003-09-04


America's top military officer denies the Bush administration is seeking a greater international military role in Iraq because security conditions there are deteriorating, requiring more troops.

General Myers says the current U.S. push for a new U.N.-backed international military presence in Iraq has nothing to do with any deterioration in security conditions there or a need for more troops.

The Chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke to reporters in an impromptu exchange at the Pentagon.

"We can not say: Iraq, security situation, and it is all going to heck in a handbasket [deteriorating]," he said. "That is not the situation."

Instead, General Myers says the U.S. goal is to make it clear to Iraqis that the current stabilization effort in their country is not strictly an American effort.

"In terms of internationalizing, this has an awful lot to do with the Iraqi people and how they perceive coalition forces in there and I think the last thing we want is for them to believe this is a mission of the United States," said General Myers. "Its much bigger than that. It is already an international effort and we want it to be an international effort. It is so important for the international community to pull together on this."

General Myers spoke as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld began a previously unannounced visit to Iraq. His exchange with reporters also coincided with the publication of an article in the Washington Post newspaper suggesting the Joint Chiefs went behind Mr. Rumsfeld's back to join State Department officials in pressing the White House to back a new U.N. resolution authorizing a multinational force for Iraq.

General Myers says the article is wrong.

"Any hint that anybody in the U.S. military, is going around the civilian chain of command to get things done is absolutely false," he said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell also denounced the article as fiction.