BAGHDAD,(Reuters) – The U.S. military commander in Iraq said on Thursday he currently saw no immediate need to request more U.S. troops other those already announced.
General David Petraeus, in his first news conference in Baghdad since taking command of U.S. forces in Iraq last month, said he had discussed with his second in command on Thursday whether he had enough troops for his current mission in Iraq. “Right now we do not see other requests (for troops) looming out there. That’s not to say that some emerging mission or emerging task will not require that, and if it does then we will ask for that,” Petraeus said.
Asked about reports his second in command General Raymond Odierno had recommended the additional 21,500 troops to be sent to reinforce a security crackdown would need to stay in Iraq until early 2008, he said he had made no decision yet on how long the extra troops would be needed. “I’ve certainly not reached a conclusion yet about that,” Petraeus said. “I think you generally think that if you’re going to achieve the kind of effects that we probably need, I would think it would need to be sustained certainly some time well beyond the summer, but again we’ll have to see.”
Petraeus took command of U.S. troops in Iraq last month at a critical time, having been appointed to oversee President George W. Bush’s new strategy in Iraq, focusing on halting the daily carnage of suicide bombs and death squad killings in Baghdad.
On Tuesday, a senior Pentagon official said the number of U.S. troops needed to carry out Bush’s Iraq security plan could approach 30,000, significantly more than projected in January.
There are nearly 140,000 U.S. troops already fighting in Iraq, where sectarian violence has thwarted American efforts to bring the 4-year-old war to a close.