Bush Seeks Money For 8,200 More Troops

GENERIC Iraq, President Bush, map of Iraq, and U.S. Troops CBS/AP

President Bush said Sunday that the 4,600 additional troops he is sending to Iraq above an increase announced in January are slated for support roles only, and urged Congress to approve funding for the war "without any strings attached."

Mr. Bush said in January after an extensive review that 21,500 additional American soldiers would be sent to Iraq to help calm Baghdad and the troubled Anbar Province.

"Those combat troops are going to need, you know, some support, and that's what the American people are seeing in terms of Iraq — the support troops necessary to help the reinforcements do their job," President Bush said at a news conference here with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

The latest announcement, made over the weekend, includes 2,400 combat support troops and 2,200 military police. Gordon England, the deputy defense secretary, told Congress last week that the number of support troops needed to support the influx of 21,500 combat troops into Iraq could reach 7,000.

Of the roughly 141,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, about 60,000 are combat forces and the rest are support troops.

President Bush asked Congress on Friday for $3.2 billion to pay for the new Iraq troops, as well as for 3,500 new U.S. troops to expand training of local police and army units in Afghanistan.

This revision came as lawmakers opposed to the war have been debating the $93.4 billion in additional defense money he's already requested to finance this year's war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Face The Nation, Sen. Charles Schumer, the Vice Chair of the Democratic Conference, said his party would try to split the two parts of the president's request.

"I think most Democrats will support more troops in Afghanistan – after all, that's where the nexus of terrorism is," the New York Democrat told Bob Schieffer. "But as for Iraq, whether it's 4,000 more troops or 40,000 more troops, we Democrats believe almost unanimously that we need a dramatic change in course, strange in strategy away from policing a civil war and much more in the direction of a much more limed and narrow mission."

Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter, also appearing on Face The Nation, said the request for additional troops wasn't a big surpise.

"I think it's been clear that we need them in Afghanistan, and there's general agreement – no one is objecting to our action there," Specter said. "And I think that there had been an expectation that there would need to be troops to back up his original announcement of a 21,500 – so this is in the ordinary course of business."

"My hope, of course, is that Congress provides the funding necessary for the combat troops to be able to do their job — without any strings attached," Bush said.

In an earlier letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mr. Bush proposed canceling $3.2 billion in low-priority defense items to offset the extra money needed to support the additional troops.

Cutting the programs, Mr. Bush said, would eliminate the need to increase the overall $93.4 billion in additional defense money he's already requested to finance this year's war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This revised request would better align resources based on the assessment of military commanders to achieve the goal of establishing Iraq and Afghanistan as democratic and secure nations that are free of terrorism," Mr. Bush wrote in his letter to lawmakers.

The president signed the letter on his flight Friday from Brazil to Uruguay, part of his five-nation tour of Latin America that continues on Sunday in Colombia. The White House released the letter Saturday in Montevideo, Uruguay.
  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.

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