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Iraq Transition

Bush will add more than 20,000 troops to Iraq

Story Highlights

Majority of troops will go to Baghdad, with some in Anbar
Troops will work alongside Iraqis
Iraqi government to spend $10 billion on infrastructure projects, Bush says
Democrats oppose adding more troops, Sen. Harry Reid says
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Linking the fight in Iraq with the greater war on terror, President Bush told the nation there is "no magic formula for success in Iraq" but that failure there "would be a disaster for the United States."

Speaking from the White House Wednesday night as about 50 protesters gathered outside, Bush said he will increase American forces by more than 20,000, the vast majority of them coming from "five brigades [that] will be deployed to Baghdad."

Bush recognized that the progress of the war is "unacceptable to the American people -- and it is unacceptable to me," adding, "Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me." (Read the speech)

The additional troops will work alongside Iraqi units. (Watch Bush talk about U.S. troop increase Video)

"Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs."

Bush said that if the situation in Iraq does not turn for the better, "Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits."

They would then be emboldened to topple moderate governments and "use oil revenues to fund their ambitions."

Iran would also have an opportunity to ratchet up its pursuit of nuclear weapons, he said.

Bush gave two reasons for the failure to secure Baghdad in particular.

There are "not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods," he said.

And there are too many restrictions on the troops that are in place, Bush said.

"Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does," he said.

"They also report that this plan can work ... and [Iraqi] Prime Minister [Nuri] al-Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated."

Bush said only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence that has besieged their country and he said that the Iraqi government "has put forward an aggressive plan" to accomplish that. (Watch Bush explain what the Iraqi military will do Video)

Bush rejected ideas "to step back."

That, the president said "would force a collapse of the Iraqi government. ... Such a scenario would result in our troops being forced to stay in Iraq even longer, and confront an enemy that is even more lethal."

Iraq's contribution

The Iraqi government will spend $10 billion "of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects" to spur job growth, Bush said. (Watch Bush speak of Iraq's economic contribution Video)

And Iraq will hold provincial elections later this year.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will leave for the Middle East Friday, he said, to "continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace" to the region. (Watch Bush explain diplomatic efforts Video)

Earlier Wednesday, top Democrats who had met with the president said they should have been granted a meeting weeks ago to discuss his new war strategy.

Emerging from their meeting with Bush about 3:15 p.m. ET, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said they felt they were not able to give input to the Bush plan.

Their meeting "was notification, not consultation," said Pelosi.

In the Democrat-controlled Senate, Reid said senators are working on a nonbinding resolution opposing more troops, and he said several Republicans are likely to support it. The House plans to raise a similar resolution. (Democrats react to speech)

The Republican congressional leadership is standing behind President Bush's new plan, and faulted Democrats for not offering their own plan for victory.

"I know many members of Congress are skeptical about will this plan work. We've had other plans. They haven't worked," said House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio. "I think the administration has put together a good plan. It is our best shot at victory in Iraq. And I think that's what the American people want and expect."

Iraqi troops will lead

In Baghdad, Iraqi soldiers will take the lead, with backup from the Americans, the officials said. The Iraqi army will add three army brigades to Baghdad to make it an Iraqi-led operation. The Iraqi troops' main goal would be to neutralize Shiite militias loyal to influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, officials said.

Al-Maliki has been reluctant to move against the militias until now because al-Sadr's political support has been crucial to al-Maliki's rise to power and continuation in office.

The additional troops will be sent to Iraq in phases, officials said. The first deployments would begin by the end of January, a U.S. official said.

To accomplish the plan, the normal tours of duty for soldiers and Marines will be extended, the officials said. Marines who usually spend seven months in Iraq will be there three or four months longer; soldiers who normally serve for a year will be there up to four months longer.

To sustain the increase, the Pentagon is expected to have to activate more National Guard and Reserve units, according to the officials.

The plan, which U.S. officials said the Iraqis helped prepare, would add billions of dollars to the cost of the war.

The White House will ask Congress for $5.6 billion for the additional troops, and $1.2 billion for rebuilding and jobs programs in Iraq, senior administration officials said.

Supporters say more troops are needed to stave off a U.S. defeat in the nearly four-year-old war, which has cost more than $400 billion and the lives of more than 3,000 U.S. troops. (Watch how the war's costs are mounting Video)

Democrats leading the House and Senate are under pressure from opponents of the war to block money for additional troop deployments. ( Democrats more bark than bite on Iraqexternal link)

And while Democrats have been the sharpest critics of Bush's plan to increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq, the president does not enjoy full support in his own party.

A number of Republican senators -- including Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas -- have publicly questioned whether Bush's plan to increase troop strength will help stabilize Iraq.

"A troop surge in Baghdad would put more American troops at risk to address a problem that is not a military problem," Coleman said Wednesday on the Senate floor.

"It would put more American soldiers in the crosshairs of sectarian violence and create more targets. I just don't believe this makes sense," Coleman said.


President Bush said that a "step back" from Iraq would only cause its government to collapse.


Pentagon sources say additional troops will come from these brigades:

•A division of the 82nd Airborne, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

•4th Brigade in Fort Riley, Kansas

•Brigades from Fort Lewis in Washington

•Fort Stewart and Fort Benning in Georgia


• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide


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