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US Military Requests More Civilian Help in Iraq


07 February 2007

A U.S. newspaper says top U.S. military commanders have told President Bush that his new Iraq strategy is likely to fail without more civilian help in rebuilding the country.

Citing unnamed government sources, The New York Times says senior military officers, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have warned that a military buildup alone can not solve Iraq's problems.

President Bush's new strategy calls for the deployment of more than 21,000 additional troops to Iraq to bolster security, along with U.S. civilian teams to step up reconstruction and political development efforts.

The Times says military leaders are also upset that the State Department is requesting the military to fill more than one-third of about 350 new civilian jobs to be created under the president's plan.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the U.S. military says it is checking reports that an American aircraft might have crashed north of Baghdad.

Witnesses say a helicopter went down in a field in the Sheik Amir area and that smoke was seen rising from the scene.

Four U.S. helicopters were shot down in different incidents in Iraq in recent weeks, in which more than 20 American servicemen and security contractors were killed.

On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered his military commanders to speed up preparations for a U.S.-backed crackdown to increase security in Baghdad.

About 90,000 troops - both Iraqis and Americans - are to move into Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhoods, where daily sectarian attacks have killed hundreds of civilians.

Separately, the U.S. military says Iraqi forces captured a leader of an insurgent cell near the town of Taji, north of Baghdad Tuesday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.



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