Army Chief Raises Estimate of G.I.'s Needed in Postwar Iraq
New York Times
Tuesday 25 February 2003
WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 -- The Army's chief of staff said today that several hundred thousand American troops could be required to provide security and public services in Iraq after a war to oust Saddam Hussein and disarm his military.
The magnitude of the postwar troop commitment described by the Army's top officer, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, is much larger than what other American officials have outlined. Pentagon officials have said that about 100,000 American troops may be needed in the post-Saddam phase, along with tens of thousands of additional allied forces.
"Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required," General Shinseki told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee today. "We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems."
General Shinseki continued, "It takes a significant ground force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water is disturbed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this."
General Shinseki made clear that he was providing only his personal assessment of postwar needs, and that the final decision would be made by the commander of American forces in the region, Gen. Tommy R. Franks.
The Bush administration has been wary of estimating how long American troops may have to stay in Iraq and how large a force may be needed. At a town hall meeting in suburban Detroit last Sunday, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said American troops would "stay as long as necessary, and leave as soon as possible."
Many senior Army officers have cautiously expressed concerns that the administration, by committing only about half the 500,000-member force that fought in the 1991 Persian Gulf war, may not have enough ground forces in place if problems arise or the force becomes bogged down dealing with refugees.
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