Rumsfeld Won't Set Timetable for Iraq Exit

November 21st, 2005  
Team Infidel

Topic: Rumsfeld Won't Set Timetable for Iraq Exit

WASHINGTON - (AP) While some lawmakers press for a timetable
for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
made no promises on Sunday and said commanders' assessments will determine
the pace of any military drawdown.
About 160,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq as the country approaches
elections Dec. 15. The Pentagon has said it plans to scale back troop
strength to its pre-election baseline of 138,000, depending on conditions.
Rumsfeld said the U.S.-led coalition continues to make progress in
training Iraqi security forces, which he placed at 212,000.
Rumsfeld disputed reports that fewer than 1,000 Iraqis were capable
of fighting the insurgency without coalition assistance, saying the lower
number was "a red herring."
"The Iraqi security forces are out engaged in the fight. Some are in
the lead, some are working with us in tandem, others are working with us
where we have the lead, and that's perfectly understandable," he said on
ABC's "This Week."
In September, Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq,
told senators that only one Iraqi army battalion appeared capable of
fighting without U.S. help.
Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and decorated Marine Corps
veteran of the Vietnam War, last week urged the withdrawal of all U.S.
troops within six months because the U.S. cannot accomplish anything further
militarily. His statement touched off a bitter debate between Republicans
and Democrats.
Rumsfeld suggested that talk of withdrawal tells insurgents that "if
they wait, they prevail, and they'll be able to turn that country into a
haven for terrorism." U.S. troops, he said, believe they are making progress
in a noble cause in which the U.S. will prevail.
"We have to all have the willingness to have a free debate, but we
also all have to have the willingness to understand what the effects of our
words are," he said.