Rumsfeld says temporary spike in pre-election Iraq troop levels likely
August 24, 2005
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pentagon will “very likely” soon announce a “temporary” spike in the number of troops assigned to Iraq in advance of the upcoming elections, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday.
Military planners will increase the current force level of about 138,000 U.S. troops by “a thousand, 2,000” servicemembers in order to bolster security for the planned Oct. 15 referendum on Iraq’s constitution, Rumsfeld told reporters during a Pentagon news conference.
Navy Adm. Edward Giambastiani, newly appointed vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who joined Rumsfeld, clarified his boss’ remark by saying “a couple of battalions” would be sent to Iraq, and noted that an additional battalion has already been sent to Afghanistan, also to provide election security this fall.
Army battalions range in size from 300 to 1,000 soldiers.
Rumsfeld also said Tuesday that a new constitution would not improve the current situation in Iraq.
“Regrettably, completing the constitution is not likely to end all the violence in Iraq or solve all the country’s problems,” Rumsfeld said.
Iraqi lawmakers delayed a vote on the draft constitution to give negotiators more time to persuade Sunni Arabs to accept it.
“The process has been delayed a bit, but democracy has never been described as speedy, efficient or perfect,” Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld rejected the idea that the United States has gotten bogged down in Iraq like it did in Vietnam, saying polls show that anger toward the instability caused by insurgents is growing.
Rumsfeld noted that improvised explosive devices in Iraq have “been going up,” but that this was to be expected before “an event” like the elections.
Giambastiani said that 75 percent of IED incidents in Iraq do not result in casualties.
But although insurgents are hitting “maybe one out of four,” it is true that the attacks that do cause damage are more lethal than in the past, Rumsfeld said.
“I don’t know quite what I would attribute it to,” the secretary said when asked why IEDs appear to be gaining sophistication.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.