Abizaid and Casey have opposed sending more troops to Iraq, and their
departures could make it easier for Bush to send more soldiers to the war. One
option calls for sending five or more additional combat brigades ¡ª roughly
20,000 or more troops.
Apart from any increase in Iraq, Bush said the military's overall size should
be increased to relieve the heavy strain on US troops, reversing the previous
position of his administration during Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon tenure. Bush
also said a troop surge in Iraq would have to be for a specific mission.
His remarks appeared intended to address doubts voiced by prominent military
officials who worry that sending more troops to Iraq would be ineffective and
put more demands on an already-stretched US military.
"There's got to be a specific mission that can be accomplished with the
addition of more troops before, you know, I agree on that strategy," the
The administration says many questions have to be answered about sending in
more troops: What would be their purpose, what would they do, how long would
they stay and what is the Iraqi government's view on the rules of engagement for
more US forces? Also, would the additional troops serve in training positions,
in combat, to help civilian forces or for a combination of those roles?
"I'm not going to make predictions about what 2007 will look like in Iraq
except that it's going to require difficult choices and additional sacrifices
because the enemy is merciless and violent," the president said.
Bush was unwavering about US goals for Iraq.
"Victory in Iraq is achievable," he said. "It hadn't happened nearly as
quickly as I hoped it would have. ...
"But I also don't believe most Americans want us just to get out now," the
president said. "A lot of Americans understand the consequences of defeat.
Retreat would embolden radicals. It would hurt the credibility of the United
Bush stepped back from his confident assertion two months ago that
"absolutely, we're winning" in Iraq. Wednesday, he said, "We're not winning.
We're not losing."
The president said he changed his formulation because "we're not succeeding
nearly as fast as I wanted ... and that the conditions are tough in Iraq,
particularly in Baghdad."
He said his original remark, on Oct. 25, was made in the spirit that "I
believe that we're going to win. I believe that ¡ª and, by the way, if I didn't
think that, I wouldn't have our troops there."