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U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

  No. 994-04

Statement From Pentagon Spokesman Lawrence Di Rita

Throughout Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has relied upon the recommendations of the military commanders and the military advice of the Chairman and the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the basis for decisions regarding force levels.

The Commander of U.S. Central Command determined the number of U.S. forces needed during the major combat phase of the operations in Iraq, and the forces needed since the end of major combat operations in May 2003.

With the advice of the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs, Secretary Rumsfeld approved requests for additional forces when the Central Command Commander requested additional forces. For example:

--Prior to the transition to Iraqi sovereignty in June 2004, General Abizaid requested an increase in U.S. forces in Iraq, which was approved as requested.

--General Abizaid also sought and received approval for additional U.S. forces in Afghanistan, to provide added capability prior to the Oct. 9, 2004 elections.

While serving as the Coalition Provisional Authority, Mr. Bremer was understandably interested in--but not in charge of--security issues. Mr. Bremer worked closely with the Commander of the Joint Task Force in Baghdad, and together they provided regular updates to the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman, and the National Security Council.

Any views Mr. Bremer may have expressed regarding the capabilities and levels of U.S. forces in Iraq would have been referred to the military commanders and the Chairman and members of the Joint Chiefs for their review and consideration.

Before, during, and subsequent to Mr. Bremer's tenure, the military commanders and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff believed that the level of U.S. forces in Iraq was the appropriate level, and that was their recommendation to the Secretary of Defense.


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