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Wednesday, 20 December 2006 07:32

DNC: Bush No Longer Listening To Commanders On Troop Levels In Iraq

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From the Democratic National Committee

Bush No Longer Listening To Commanders On Troop Levels In Iraq

Washington, DC - After insisting that troop levels in Iraq would be determined by the commanders in the field, President Bush said today during his news conference that the recommendations of his military leaders are just one of many factors that will determine whether he orders an upsurge of thousands more American troops in Iraq. President Bush is reportedly leaning toward a surge, despite reports that the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously oppose Bush's proposal to send more troops to Iraq without a clear mission, because the White House has been confounded by its limited options in Iraq. [Washington Post, 12/19/06]

"While President Bush claims that he is listening to ideas to come up with a new way forward, it's clear that he does not understand the need for a new direction in Iraq and still refuses to listen to our military commanders in the field," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Luis Miranda. "Our troops deserve better than the President's permanent commitment to a failed strategy in Iraq. Democrats are offering a new direction in Iraq and are united behind a plan of phased redeployment that places more responsibility on Iraqis to protect their country and stop sectarian violence."

TODAY: Bush Said He Would Take Military Leaders' "Recommendations" Into Account Before Announcing Whether He Would Support a Surge. Bush was asked, "If you conclude that a surge in troop levels in Iraq is needed would you overrule your military commanders if they felt it was not a good idea?" Bush replied, "That's a dangerous hypothetical question. You can ask anything you want. Let me wait and gather all of the recommendations from Bob Gates, from our military, from diplomats on the ground, interested Iraqis point of view and then I'll report back to you as to whether or not I support a surge or not. Nice try. The opinion of my commanders is very important. They are bright, capable, smart people whose opinion matters to me a lot." [Bush Press Conference, 12/20/06]

DECEMBER 2006: Bush: Force Size Will Depend Solely On "Conditions on The Ground And Upon The Recommendations of Our Commanders on The Ground." In an interview with Fox News' Brit Hume, President Bush was asked, "You have said on a number of occasions that your view of the shape and mission of the US forces day by day in Iraq, week by week, is based on what Generals Abizaid and more specifically, General Casey, say. That this has been kind of a Casey and Abizaid approach. Is that a fair assessment?" "I have said that the force size will depend on conditions on the ground, and upon the recommendations of our commanders on the ground, absolutely," Bush said. [Federal News Service, 12/4/06]

JUNE 2006: Bush: Troop Presence Would Be Determined by Military Commanders. President Bush said the U.S. troop presence in Iraq would be determined by military commanders, the Iraqi government and "conditions on the ground." Bush's remarks followed a New York Times report that Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, planned to send home about 7,000 of the 127,000 American troops there by September 2006 without replacing them. Bush said, "In terms of our presence there, that decision will be made by General Casey as well as the sovereign government of Iraq based upon conditions on the ground." Bush said Casey's recommendation would strive for victory, which the president defined as "a free government that is able to sustain itself, defend itself" and that "will be an ally in the war on terror." [CNN.com, 6/26/06]

MAY 2006: Bush: "As The Iraqis Stand Up, We'll Stand Down. But, Our Commanders on The Ground Will Make That Decision." In a joint news conference with Tony Blair, President Bush was asked about troop levels. "First of all, we're going to work with our partners in Iraq, the new government, to determine the best way forward in achieving an objective, which is an Iraq that can govern itself and sustain itself and defend itself," Bush said. "I have said to the American people: As the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down. But I've also said that our commanders on the ground will make that decision. And I will talk to General Casey once he has conferred with the new government of Iraq. They don't have a defense minister yet. They're in the process of getting a defense minister. So it probably makes a lot of sense for our commander on the ground to wait until their defense structure is set up before we discuss with them and he with me the force levels necessary to achieve our objective." [FDCH Political Transcripts, 5/25/06]

APRIL 2006: Bush on Casey: "If He Says He Needs More Troops, He'll Get Them, And If He Says He Can Live with Fewer Troops. That's The Way It's Going to Be." "I remember coming up in the Vietnam War and it seemed like that there was a -- during the Vietnam War, there was a lot of politicization of the military decisions. That's not going to be the case under my administration. They say, well, does George Casey tell you the truth? You bet he tells me the truth. When I talk to him, which I do quite frequently, I've got all the confidence in the world in this fine General. He's a smart guy, he's on the ground, he's making incredible sacrifices for our country, and he -- if he says he needs more troops, he'll get them, and if he says he can live with fewer troops because the Iraqis are prepared to take the fight, that's the way it's going to be." [White House Press Release, 4/6/06]

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