Recruitment of Iraqi Security Will Accelerate, Rumsfeld SaysBy Douglas Jehl
and Dexter Filkins
The New York Times -- BAGHDAD, Iraq
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, arriving in Iraq on Thursday, said his highest priority is to accelerate the recruitment, training and deployment of former Iraqi officers to work with the United States to combat disorder and violence here.
The plans outlined by Rumsfeld on Thursday represented a shift and appeared to reflect the growing realization here and in Washington that the money and manpower so far committed to the American project in Iraq are proving insufficient to the task.
Repeated car bombings and attacks on American soldiers, coupled with a growing sense in Iraq and in United States of the limits of American power, appear to have placed the Bush administration in the difficult situation of recognizing a need for more troops without being able to ask for any more from the United States.
Rumsfeld is the most senior American official to visit Iraq since May, and his journey comes closely on the heels of a wave of bombing attacks, including the strike six days ago that killed a top Shiite cleric and nearly 100 others in Najaf.
The new emphasis on enlisting more Iraqis to work on achieving greater security has come in tandem with the administration’s decision to turn to the United Nations -- once viewed with great skepticism -- for help in recruiting more non-American soldiers.
At least 50,000 Iraqis are already in place as part of a new Iraqi army, police force and civil defense corps, defense officials said. But Rumsfeld said he would encourage American commanders and civilian leaders, as well as members of Iraq’s Governing Council, to speed up the recruitment and screening of thousands more former Iraqi officers. These recruitments could include anyone up to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, officials said.
Pressure on American forces here have grown as Iraq has proved more difficult to control than was anticipated. A recent study by the Congressional Budget Office showed that the Army has too few active-duty troops to sustain the occupation beyond March.