Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, administrator for the U.S.-led occupation government until the handover of political power on June 28, said he still supports the decision to intervene in Iraq but said a lack of adequate forces hampered the occupation and efforts to end the looting early on.
"We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness," he said yesterday in a speech at an insurance conference in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. "We never had enough troops on the ground."
In a Sept. 17 speech at DePauw University, Bremer said he frequently raised the issue within the administration and "should have been even more insistent" when his advice was spurned because the situation in Iraq might be different today. "The single most important change -- the one thing that would have improved the situation -- would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout" the occupation, Bremer said, according to the Banner-Graphic in Greencastle, Ind.
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Prior to the war, the Army chief of staff, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, said publicly that he thought the invasion plan lacked sufficient manpower, and he was slapped down by the Pentagon's civilian leadership for saying so. During the war, concerns about troop strength expressed by retired generals also provoked angry denunciations by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In April 2003, for example, Rumsfeld commented, "People were saying that the plan was terrible and there weren't enough people and . . . there were going to be, you know, tens of thousands of casualties, and it was going to take forever." After Baghdad fell, Rumsfeld dismissed reports of widespread looting and chaos as "untidy" signs of newfound freedom that were exaggerated by the media. Rumsfeld and Bush resisted calls for more troops, saying that what was going on in Iraq was not a war but simply the desperate actions of Baathist loyalists.
24 February 2006
Iraq War Mistakes
I'm not the only one who says that insufficient troop levels early on in Iraq and a failure to establish law and order immediately upon taking Baghdad were critical mistakes in how the Bush Administration conducted the Iraq War: