Wednesday, September 03, 2003

The Bush administration now thinks one way to turn this around is by increasing the number of international forces. President Bush today signed off on a proposed resolution seeking U.N. approval for a multinational force under U.S. command, a U.S. official told ABCNEWS. Under the proposal, the U.S. would cede some political authority to the United Nations

In addition, the U.S. administration in Iraq is speeding up the three-month training process for members of the new Iraqi police force.

"We're actually going to try to do it in eight weeks," said Paul Bremer, the U.S. civil administrator of Iraq. "So we're trying to cut a month off that in view of the urgency of building up the police force."

Meanwhile the Congressional Budget Office seems to believe the Army can't keep up this pace either.

A U.S. occupation of Iraq that relies on the creation of two new Army divisions could cost up to an estimated $29 billion annually, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.
Relying on existing soldiers serving one-year tours would cost as little as $8 billion a year but would mean the force would steadily shrink as troops were rotated out of Iraq, the study said.

The report, released today, was requested by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., one of Congress' most outspoken critics of Bush administration policy in Iraq. In remarks on the Senate floor, Byrd said the report "is quantified evidence that the long-term occupation is straining our forces close to the breaking point."

The nonpartisan budget office said the Army could not keep a force in Iraq of its current size beyond March 2004 if it retains its current policy of rotating most troops out of the country after a year. The force would have to shrink to no more than 64,000 under that policy — down from the more than 180,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq and neighboring countries, the report said.

Creating two new divisions would allow a force of up to 129,000 personnel, CBO said.

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