Occupation forces in Iraq

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The anticipation of a prolonged stay by occupation forces in Iraq, particularly U.S. forces, was apparently not given thoughtful consideration before the invasion of Iraq by the coalition of the willing early in 2003. On Saturday, November 22, 2003, The New York Times reported that "Army planning for Iraq currently assumes keeping about 100,000 United States troops there through early 2006, a senior Army officer said Friday. The plans reflect the concerns of some Army officials that stabilizing Iraq could be more difficult than originally planned."

"The Pentagon has said it will reduce the American military presence in Iraq to 105,000 by May [2004] from 130,000 now. While some defense officials have raised the possibility of shrinking the force even more next year, if circumstances allow, the senior Army officer [speaking 'on condition of anonymity'] said Army planners were assuming that the number of American forces in Iraq would probably stay the same when the military begins its third one-year troop rotation in March 2005."

"Another senior military official [also speaking 'on condition of anonymity'] cautioned that while the senior Army officer's comments reflected prudent planning, it 'has nothing to do with what the security situation on the ground might be in 18 months.'"

"A third senior military official said that, while planning for the force to enter Iraq in early 2005 was under way, it was far too early to predict how many American troops would be needed for that rotation."

"Many military planners are looking at future troop levels in Iraq, for different reasons. Army and Marine Corps officials must plan for worst-case scenarios, since their services will provide the vast majority of forces in future rotations. Planners on the military's Joint Staff in Washington examine how forces are allocated for hot spots around the world.

"Planners at the United States Central Command in Tampa, Fla., which has responsibility for military operations in Iraq, closely watch the specific troop requirements in Iraq. For that reason, Gen. John P. Abizaid of the Army, who heads the Central Command, will probably have the most influential voice in deciding future troop levels in Iraq."

"Just how large the American military presence in Iraq will be in the future depends not only on negotiations with Iraqi political leaders but also on the level of violence in Iraq and how quickly newly trained Iraqis can take over security, American officials say."


On November 26, 2003, retired U.S. Army General Jay Garner admitted in a radio interview that the U.S. Made Postwar Iraq Mistakes.

  • "the decision to disband the Iraqi army"
  • "should also have put more more troops into Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein and done a better job of winning support from the Iraqi people"
  • "chaos shocked many Baghdad residents, and crime remains a problem in the capital"
  • "bringing the Iraqi army back and using them in reconstruction"
  • "Bremer's decision threw hundreds of thousands of breadwinners out of work and provided potential recruits for insurgency"
  • Garner "would have done a better job communicating with the Iraqi people and restoring electricity supplies"
  • "we are finally placing more trust in Iraqis, which we should have done to begin with"
  • "should have tried to raise a government a little faster than we did"
  • "not enough effort had been put into winning over ordinary Iraqis by getting America's message across"
  • "bad relations between the Pentagon and State Department, [meant that Garner didn't] learn of a detailed study by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell for postwar Iraq until a few weeks before the war began in March"

By April 2004, "For the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein a year ago, the Americans found themselves fighting intensely against two main segments of the population, using warplanes, attack helicopters and armored units against the groups the United States had said it came to liberate when it invaded war in March last year." --Christine Hauser, NYT 8 April 2004



Related SourceWatch Resources

External links

  • Carl Hulse, Once an Ally of Bush at Home, Kennedy Lashes Out on Iraq, New York Times, September 27, 2003: "At every turn, and with rising passion, he has blistered the White House for its calculation to go to war and for failing to adequately plan for the occupation." The "he" is Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
  • 1 November 2003: "Another fine mess, chaps" by Mike Carlton, smh.com.au: "As the Bushies lurch deeper into the horrors of a protracted guerilla war in Iraq, it is instructive to look back at the overweening hubris which got them into the morass."
  • 14 November 2003: "Op Chart" by Adriana Lins de Albuquerque, Michael O'Hanlon, and Jelly Associates, New York Times: "How are things really going in Iraq?"
  • 15 November 2003: "U.S. Is Set to Return Power to Iraqis as Early as June" by Susan Sachs, New York Times: "The Bush administration has agreed to restore independence to Iraq as early as next June, apparently hoping the move will change the perception of the United States as an occupying power and curb the mounting attacks on American forces in the country, Iraqi and American officials said Friday."
  • 18 November 2003: "Bush Insists That U.S. Troops Will Stay in Iraq" by Elisabeth Bumiller and Douglas Jehl, New York Times: "President Bush said emphatically on Monday that the United States would not leave Iraq even though the White House had decided to speed the transfer of American civilian authority to a new government in Baghdad."
  • 22 November 2003: "US Army to Keep 100,000 Troops in Iraq to 2006" by Eric Schmidt (Reuters), New York Times.
  • 26 November 2003: "Pentagon Sending More Marines to Iraq" by Robert Burns, AP: "Several thousand additional Marines will go to Iraq next year, the Pentagon said Wednesday in an update that indicated the total U.S. force won't be reduced as much as planned. ... also approved the mobilization of 9,900 Army, 1,290 Navy and 3,208 Air Force reserve personnel for the rotation, which will begin in January to replace the 130,000 troops who will be completing one-year tours of duty in Iraq. ... also put on alert 4,228 Army, 1,290 Navy and 2,381 Air Force reservists, to let them know they may be mobilized for duty in Iraq. ... they can expect to be on active duty for up to 18 months."
  • 26 November 2003: "Garner: U.S. Made Postwar Iraq Mistakes" by Michael McDonough, AP.
  • 27 November 2003: "US readies extra marines for Iraq", AFP: "Rumsfeld has approved the deployment of three fresh marine battalions, ... [which] will mean about 3,000 extra troops on top of those already planned for rotation with existing force in Iraq. ... The United States has about 132,000 troops in Iraq now. ... [as part of a] total of 56,504 fresh troops who have now been mobilized for the Iraq rotation next year ... Rumsfeld also alerted 4,228 army troops, 1,290 navy sailors and 2,381 air force reserve personnel, bringing the total of reservists readying for deployment in the second rotation of Operation Iraqi Freedom to 66,531."