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Iraq Wants Quick Withdrawal of U.S. Troops

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050727/ap_on_re_mi_ea/rumsfeld Iraq Wants Quick Withdrawal of U.S. Troops By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer 47
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 27, 2005

      Iraq Wants Quick Withdrawal of U.S. Troops

      By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer 47 minutes ago

      BAGHDAD, Iraq -
      Iraq's transitional prime minister called Wednesday
      for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops and the top
      U.S. commander here said he believed a "fairly
      substantial" pullout could begin next spring and

      Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said at a joint news
      conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
      that the time has arrived to plan a coordinated
      transition from American to Iraqi military control
      throughout the country.

      Asked how soon a U.S. withdrawal should happen, he
      said no exact timetable had been set. "But we confirm
      and we desire speed in that regard," he said, speaking
      through a translator. "And this fast pace has two

      First, there must be a quickening of the pace of U.S.
      training of Iraqi security forces, and second there
      must be closely coordinated planning between the
      U.S.-led military coalition and the emerging Iraq
      government on a security transition, he said.

      "We do not want to be surprised by a withdrawal that
      is not in connection with our Iraqi timing,"' he said.

      Speaking earlier with U.S. reporters traveling with
      Rumsfeld, Gen. George Casey, the top American
      commander in Iraq, said he believed a U.S. troop
      withdrawal could begin by spring 2006 if progress
      continues on the political front and if the insurgency
      does not expand.

      Rumsfeld was planning to get a firsthand look at the
      training of Iraqi security forces by watching a
      demonstration by a group of Iraqi special forces
      soldiers using live ammunition at a training range run
      by American troops.

      U.S. officials describe a variety of security forces
      being developed. Foremost is the Iraqi army, comprised
      mainly of infantry battalions, although there also are
      to be four tank battalions. The army now has about
      77,000 soldiers, and it is scheduled to expand to
      about 85,000 by December. It includes "intervention
      forces," to lead the Iraqi effort against the

      There are now about 94,000 police, most for standard
      traffic and patrol work. That is to grow to about
      145,000 by December, and it includes "special police"
      commando battalions as well as a mechanized police
      brigade that will be a paramilitary, counterinsurgency
      unit intended to deploy to high-risk areas using light
      armored personnel carriers.

      The organization in charge of training and equipping
      Iraqi security forces is the Multinational Security
      Transition Command, headed by Lt. Gen. David Petraeus,
      who last week was announced by the
      Pentagon as the next commander of the Army's Combined
      Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He is to be
      replaced in Iraq by Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who
      spent more than a year in Iraq as commander of the 1st
      Armored Division.

      The effort to build a reliable Iraq security force has
      been slowed by a number of problems. One that can be
      traced to the earliest days of the U.S. military
      occupation was the virtual disintegration of the Iraqi
      army that existed when American troops invaded in
      March 2003. Some say this was made worse by the
      decision of L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian
      administrator of Iraq starting in May 2003, to
      formally disband the Iraqi security forces.

      Another problem has been infiltration of the security
      forces by insurgents. In its report to Congress last
      week, the Pentagon acknowledged that this remains a
      problem and it still is unable to say just how much
      infiltration there is, despite efforts to improve
      vetting of recruits.

      Rumsfeld said en route to Iraq on Wednesday that Iraqi
      leaders must take a more aggressive stance against
      what he called harmful interference from neighboring
      Syria and Iran.

      He said he would be pushing the Iraqis to provide more
      people who can be trained by U.S. personnel to handle
      the growing number of detainees in the country, now
      estimated to number at least 15,000.

      With a permanent Iraqi government scheduled to take
      power in January, following adoption of a constitution
      and an election in December, they need trained prison
      guards "so that as soon as it is feasible we can
      transfer responsibility for Iraqi prisoners to the
      Iraqi government," he said.

      Rumsfeld has often criticized Iran and Syria for
      meddling in Iraq's affairs. In his remarks Wednesday,
      he put the main onus on Iraqi leaders to do more to
      fix the problem.

      "They need to be aggressively communicating with their
      neighbors to see that foreign terrorists stop coming
      across those borders and that their neighbors do not
      harbor insurgents and finance insurgents," he said in
      an in-flight interview with reporters accompanying him
      from Tajikistan.
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