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by Rupert Cornwell
Thursday, Sep. 11, 2003 at 1:28 PM
Oh, they know when they will pull out - when all of the Oil is exhausted or firmly under the control of Bush Family Cronies. This is the Mob - and this is your Country run by the Mob.
US Has No Idea When Troops Will Pull Out Of Iraq
By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent - UK
WASHINGTON -- Under fierce grilling from both Democratic and Republican Senators yesterday, senior US officials admitted they had no idea how long American troops would be staying in Iraq, or when the extra international forces sought by President George Bush would be deployed to help them.
Testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Defence Secretary, and General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered the first defence on Capitol Hill of President Bush's bn (£55bn) funding request, for the US military and reconstruction effort in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Their appearance coincided with reports that some 20,000 National Guard personnel and reservists will have their tours of duty in Iraq and other Gulf countries extended to 12 months to relieve pressure on the 130,000 soldiers on active duty in Iraq. These have already seen their stay extended far longer than expected.
At the same time, claims of poor planning for the post-war period have been reinforced by a new report that US intelligence had warned the administration before the invasion to expect considerable armed resistance to occupying forces.
But according to The Washington Post, such sombre predictions seem to have been brushed aside by the Pentagon's civilian leadership. In February for instance, General Eric Shinseki, who was the Army Chief of Staff at the time, told Congress that "several hundred thousand" troops might be needed in the aftermath - only to have Mr Wolfowitz call his estimate "wildly off the mark". Yesterday Mr Wolfowitz was in the hot seat, trying to explain his previous assurances that Iraq would soon be paying for its own reconstruction. He also had to square Pentagon assertions that US commanders in Iraq believe they have sufficient troops with President Bush's call for an extra foreign division to share the burden.
The bn request, on top of the bn allocated by Congress last spring, was "a bitter pill for the American people to swallow", said the Michigan Senator Carl Levin, the top-ranking Democrat on the panel. John McCain, the Arizona Republican and supporter of the war, said the Pentagon "clearly underestimated" the extent of the difficulties.
Forced to return to the United Nations, the Bush administration has submitted a new draft Security Council resolution enlarging the role of the UN in post-war Iraq, which it hopes will persuade others, especially Islamic countries such as Turkey and Pakistan, to send forces. This weekend the Secretary of State Colin Powell travels to Geneva to meet the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Russia and China, the four other veto-wielding members of the Council, in an attempt to reach a deal before Mr Bush addresses the General Assembly on 23 September. But, under insistent and sceptical questioning from Mr McCain, Marc Grossman, under-secretary for political affairs at the State Department conceded he had "no idea" when forces for this international division would be going to Iraq. However unhappily, Democrats are likely to join Republicans in approving the bn package when it comes up for a vote, probably early next month.But further intense questioning is certain.
But Mr Wolfowitz insisted the spending was essential, to train Iraqi and international troops, and to give US forces what they required to win the war. He claimed that 55,000 Iraqi soldiers were fighting alongside the Allied forces. General Myers added that by 2005, that number would grow to 184,000.
© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
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