US President George W. Bush will call for sending more American troops to
Iraq to calm two troubled areas _ Baghdad, where sectarian violence flares
daily, and the western Anbar Province, a base of the Sunni insurgency, a
Republican senator said. Another GOP lawmaker put the number of additional
troops at 20,000.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, one of about 30 lawmakers to discuss Iraq
with Bush at the White House on Monday, said the president offered no specifics
on how many extra U.S. troops would be involved. The White House remained quiet
on the specifics of Bush's revamped strategy for the nearly four-year-old war,
saying he would announce them during a speech to the nation at 9 p.m. EST
Wednesday (0200 GMT Thursday).
U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a
meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in the Oval
Office of the White House in Washington January 8, 2007.
"There will be surge in those two (areas), but it wasn't clear how much,"
Hutchison said. White House officials privately did not dispute her remarks.
According to Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, Bush told the senators that Iraqi
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presented him with the plan for a U.S. troop
increase several weeks ago when they met in Jordan. Bush indicated to the
lawmakers he was willing to send more troops because the Iraqis were willing to
meet certain criteria.
Smith said the president only hypothetically discussed increasing troop
numbers by specific amounts, "but it was clear to me a decision has been made
for 20,000 additional troops."
There are about 140,000 troops in Iraq now.
Military officials have said Bush is considering sending two to five more
brigades _ between about 8,000 and 20,000 troops _ to Iraq, to fight alongside
promised additions of Iraqi security forces as well. Some military officials
familiar with the discussions say the president could initially dispatch 8,000
to 10,000 new troops to Baghdad, and possibly to troubled Anbar Province, and
leave himself the option of sending more later.
The war has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 members of the U.S. military
and was a major factor in the Republican Party losing control of Congress in the
November election. Some top military officials worry that sending more troops
would overly strain the armed forces without assurances of success.
A central aim of the long-awaited address is to explain why success in Iraq
matters to the average person. The White House knows the public is weary of war.