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More troops in Iraq?



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QUESTION: What's your best prediction on how long U.S. troops will have to be in Iraq? And it sounds like you will have to add some troops. Is that a fair assessment?

BUSH: Well, first of all, that's up to General [Richard] Abizaid [head of U.S. Central Command], and he's clearly indicating that he may want more troops. It's coming up through the chain of command. And if that's what he wants, that's what he gets.

Generally, we've had about a 115,000 troops in Iraq. There's 135,000 now as a result of the changeover from one division to the next.

If he wants to keep troops there to help, I'm more than willing to say, "Yes, General Abizaid."

I talk to General Abizaid quite frequently. I'm constantly asking him does he have what he needs, whether it be in troop strength or in equipment. He and General Sanchez talk all the time. And if he makes the recommendation, he'll get it.

In terms of how long we'll be there, as long as necessary, and not one day more. The Iraqi people need us there to help with security. They need us there to fight off these, you know, violent few, who are doing everything they can to resist the advance of freedom. And I mentioned who they are.

And as I mentioned in my opening remarks, our commanders on the ground have got the authorities necessary to deal with violence, and will -- will in firm fashion.

And that's what by far the vast majority of the Iraqis want. They want security so they can advance toward a free society.

Once we transfer sovereignty, we'll enter into a security agreement with the government to which we pass sovereignty, the entity to which we pass sovereignty. And we'll need to be there for a while.

We'll also need to continue training the Iraqi troops. I was disappointed in the performance of some of the troops.

Some of the units performed brilliantly. Some of them didn't. And we need to find out why. If they're lacking in equipment, we'll get them equipment. If there needs to be more intense training, we'll get more intense training.

But eventually, Iraq's security is going to be handled by the Iraqi people themselves.

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