Are More Troops Needed In Iraq?

US soldiers look for clues along a highway in Baghdad, Iraq after an attack on a U.S. army convoy Friday July 4, 2003. AP

Weekly commentary by Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.




There is no question now that Saddam Hussein was not as close to building a nuclear weapon as the administration led us to believe before the war. But here's the harder question we should be talking about: Do we need more troops in Iraq?

Every day brings more attacks and more Americans died. The official line is that it's not more troops that we need, but information on where the enemy is.

But I wonder. Early on the Army chief of staff told Congress we would need several hundred thousand Americans in Iraq for years to come. That got a lot of no-way, no-how reaction from the Pentagon civilian bosses, and they told the Army chief to get on with his plans to retire.

Are the planners now reluctant to admit that he was right and they were wrong? Let's hope not. But it's now clear the job is bigger and more complicated than officials expected.

The new top commander, General Abizaid, has finally called it what the Pentagon would not call it, but what it is: a guerrilla war. Which begs the question, do we have enough manpower to run the larger and more frequent sweeps required to root out the guerrilla force we did not expect to find?

At the least, the president needs a top-to-bottom reassessment. Who was right, who was wrong before the war is no longer relevant, because the situation is not what planners thought it was.

To save lives, we need to first admit what the soldiers already know: This war is not over. Then, we need to get on with winning.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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