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Pentagon Contradicts General On Iraq Occupation Force's Size

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  • Josh Pollack
    -Pentagon Contradicts General On Iraq Occupation Force s Size -Wolfowitz Criticizes Suspect Estimate Of Occupation Force New York Times February 28, 2003
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      -Pentagon Contradicts General On Iraq Occupation Force's Size
      -Wolfowitz Criticizes 'Suspect' Estimate Of Occupation Force

      New York Times
      February 28, 2003
      Pentagon Contradicts General On Iraq Occupation Force's Size
      By Eric Schmitt

      WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 — In a contentious exchange over the costs of war with Iraq, the Pentagon's second-ranking official today disparaged a top Army general's assessment of the number of troops needed to secure postwar Iraq. House Democrats then accused the Pentagon official, Paul D. Wolfowitz, of concealing internal administration estimates on the cost of fighting and rebuilding the country.

      Mr. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the recent estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, "wildly off the mark." Pentagon officials have put the figure closer to 100,000 troops.

      Mr. Wolfowitz then dismissed articles in several newspapers this week asserting that Pentagon budget specialists put the cost of war and reconstruction at $60 billion to $95 billion in this fiscal year. He said it was impossible to predict accurately a war's duration, its destruction and the extent of rebuilding afterward.

      "We have no idea what we will need until we get there on the ground," Mr. Wolfowitz said at a hearing of the House Budget Committee. "Every time we get a briefing on the war plan, it immediately goes down six different branches to see what the scenarios look like. If we costed each and every one, the costs would range from $10 billion to $100 billion."

      Mr. Wolfowitz's refusal to be pinned down on the costs of war and peace in Iraq infuriated some committee Democrats, who noted that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., the budget director, had briefed President Bush on just such estimates on Tuesday.

      "I think you're deliberately keeping us in the dark," said Representative James P. Moran, Democrat of Virginia. "We're not so naïve as to think that you don't know more than you're revealing."

      Representative Darlene Hooley, an Oregon Democrat, also voiced exasperation with Mr. Wolfowitz: "I think you can do better than that."

      Mr. Wolfowitz, with Dov S. Zakheim, the Pentagon comptroller, at his side, tried to mollify the Democratic lawmakers, promising to fill them in eventually on the administration's internal cost estimates.

      "There will be an appropriate moment," he said, when the Pentagon would provide Congress with cost ranges. "We're not in a position to do that right now."

      At a Pentagon news conference with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Mr. Rumsfeld echoed his deputy's comments.

      Neither Mr. Rumsfeld nor Mr. Wolfowitz mentioned General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, by name. But both men were clearly irritated at the general's suggestion that a postwar Iraq might require many more forces than the 100,000 American troops and the tens of thousands of allied forces that are also expected to join a reconstruction effort.

      "The idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far off the mark," Mr. Rumsfeld said.

      General Shinseki gave his estimate in response to a question at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday: "I would say that what's been mobilized to this point — something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers — are probably, you know, a figure that would be required." He also said that the regional commander, Gen. Tommy R. Franks, would determine the precise figure.

      A spokesman for General Shinseki, Col. Joe Curtin, said today that the general stood by his estimate. "He was asked a question and he responded with his best military judgment," Colonel Curtin said. General Shinseki is a former commander of the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia.

      In his testimony, Mr. Wolfowitz ticked off several reasons why he believed a much smaller coalition peacekeeping force than General Shinseki envisioned would be sufficient to police and rebuild postwar Iraq.

      He said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia or Kosovo. He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force that "stayed as long as necessary but left as soon as possible," but would oppose a long-term occupation force. And he said that nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it.

      "I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction," Mr. Wolfowitz said. He added that many Iraqi expatriates would likely return home to help.

      In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, many nations agreed in advance of hostilities to help pay for a conflict that eventually cost about $61 billion. Mr. Wolfowitz said that this time around the administration was dealing with "countries that are quite frightened of their own shadows" in assembling a coalition to force President Saddam Hussein to disarm.

      Enlisting countries to help to pay for this war and its aftermath would take more time, he said. "I expect we will get a lot of mitigation, but it will be easier after the fact than before the fact," Mr. Wolfowitz said.

      Mr. Wolfowitz spent much of the hearing knocking down published estimates of the costs of war and rebuilding, saying the upper range of $95 billion was too high, and that the estimates were almost meaningless because of the variables.

      Moreover, he said such estimates, and speculation that postwar reconstruction costs could climb even higher, ignored the fact that Iraq is a wealthy country, with annual oil exports worth $15 billion to $20 billion. "To assume we're going to pay for it all is just wrong," he said.

      At the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld said the factors influencing cost estimates made even ranges imperfect. Asked whether he would release such ranges to permit a useful public debate on the subject, Mr. Rumsfeld said, "I've already decided that. It's not useful."




      Washington Times
      February 28, 2003
      Wolfowitz Criticizes 'Suspect' Estimate Of Occupation Force
      By Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times

      Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz yesterday repudiated an estimate from the Army's top general that it will take hundreds of thousands of troops to occupy postwar Iraq.

      Mr. Wolfowitz said the estimate in congressional testimony by Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, was "wildly off the mark." He said it was difficult to understand how someone could predict that the occupation would require more troops than the invasion itself.

      He said Gen. Shinseki's prediction came at a "delicate time" when the Bush administration is trying to piece together a broad-based coalition to support an invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein.

      It is unusual for a senior Pentagon civilian to so thoroughly reject the testimony of a high-ranking military officer. A U.S. official said Mr. Wolfowitz's rebuke points out how unhappy the administration is with the general's testimony. The administration is sensitive to charges, especially in the Arab world, that the American military plans to rule postwar Iraq.

      This "is not a good time to publish highly suspect numbers," Mr. Wolfowitz told the House Budget Committee during testimony on the Pentagon's $379.9 billion fiscal 2004 spending plan. Mr. Wolfowitz is a major advocate inside the government of using military force to dethrone Saddam as part of the broader U.S. war against terrorists after the September 11 attacks.

      At a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Shinseki was pressed by Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, to estimate the size of an allied occupation force after victory.

      "Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably a figure that would be required," Gen. Shinseki said. "We're talking about a post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems."

      Mr. Wolfowitz yesterday called that number "way off the mark" and that it was premature to say.

      This is not the first time a top military officer has been chastised by the staff of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, although the scolding usually takes place in private.

      The Washington Times reported on an internal memo four weeks ago from Mr. Rumsfeld that criticized the quality of reports coming from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

      Asked later at a press conference about his direct management style, Mr. Rumsfeld said, "The Constitution calls for civilian control of this department. And I'm a civilian."

      He added, "I have received on occasion from people — military and civilian — work that I was not impressed with, and have indicated that. And there have been times when I've sent things back six, seven times."

      Mr. Wolfowitz yesterday refused repeated requests by House Democrats to give a range of estimates for the cost of both the war, and for post-conflict reconstruction and occupation.

      "We don't know," Mr. Wolfowitz said, saying that the cost will depend on how long the war lasts, and whether Saddam sabotages his oil facilities and uses weapons of mass destruction. "It's so dependent on assumptions that picking a number is precarious."

      But Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, said Mr. Wolfowitz knows President Bush this week received war-cost estimates from Mr. Rumsfeld and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

      "I think you're deliberately keeping us in the dark," he told Mr. Wolfowitz.

      Mr. Wolfowitz said it is wrong to believe that the United States will foot the bill for occupation. He said Iraq itself generates $15 billion to $20 billion annually in oil exports and has up to $20 billion in assets frozen because it invaded Kuwait in 1991.

      "There's a lot of money there, and to assume we're going to pay for it is wrong," he said.
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