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Bush approves 4,400 more troops for Iraq

Reuters | March 11, 2007
Steve Holland

President George W. Bush has approved adding 4,400 more U.S. troops to a force buildup already ordered to try to bring security to Iraq, the White House said on Saturday.

Bush formally requested about $3.2 billion to pay for the additional deployment, even as he and Democratic lawmakers battle over his Iraq strategy.

In January, Bush said he would deploy 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq to try to stabilize Baghdad and restive Anbar province.

The new U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, has since said more troops will be needed in support of that troop buildup.

Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said the extra troops would include up to 2,400 military police to handle an anticipated increase in Iraqi detainees.

In addition, about 2,000 more combat support troops will be needed to bolster the 21,500. Also, 129 temporary Defense Department positions are needed to help in provincial Iraqi reconstruction.

Bush sent House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, a letter revising a $100 billion request for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to take account of the $3 billion needed for the extra troops.

"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," Bush said in his letter.

He signed it on Friday night and released it on Saturday while on a Latin America tour.

Pelosi and other Democratic leaders of Congress have already raised questions about the $100 billion request and the 21,500-troop buildup.

Pelosi, in a statement, complained about Bush's vow to veto a proposal by some Democrats to withdraw all American combat troops from Iraq by mid-2008.

"With his veto threat, the president offers only an open-ended commitment to a war without end that dangerously ignores the repeated warnings of military leaders ... that the conflict cannot be resolved militarily," she said.

Johndroe said the overall $100 billion budget request has not changed.

He said about $3 billion in lower-priority items will be subtracted from the original proposal made in February to offset the new request.

U.S. military commanders in Iraq have said in recent days that the number of additional U.S. troops needed to carry out Bush's security plan for Iraq could approach 30,000, taking into account units needed to support the 21,500 extra combat troops. The United States now has some 140,000 troops in the country.

"This formalizes the request that people have been talking about over the last few days," Johndroe said.



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