Bush works to complete new war plan
Bush is considering sending up to 20,000 more troops, military officials say.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush worked Saturday to finish his new war plan that could send as many as 20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq and provide more money for jobs and reconstruction programs.
In Washington, Bush, who will announce his plan as early as Wednesday, held discussions with his national security advisers and then headed out of the White House for a bike ride. In Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced that Iraqi forces would launch a new effort to wrest control of neighborhoods in the capital from Sunni insurgents and Shiite death squads.
Military officials say Bush is considering sending two to five brigades -- up to 20,000 troops -- to help tamp down violence that is preventing political reconciliation and rebuilding efforts in Iraq. The idea of a troop buildup is getting a cool reception on Capitol Hill and from some military leaders who claim there is no military solution to the problems in Iraq where 140,000 troops already are deployed.
"Based on the advice of current and former military leaders, we believe this tactic would be a serious mistake," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in the Democratic radio address Saturday. Instead, Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi want Bush to begin pulling troops out in four to six months.
"Our troops and their families have already sacrificed a great deal for Iraq," Reid said. "They have done their part. It's time for the Iraqis to do their part."
Some military officials, familiar with the discussions, say Bush could initially dispatch 8,000 to 10,000 new troops to Baghdad, and possibly Anbar province, and leave himself the option of sending more later if security doesn't improve.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., say that, at a minimum, an additional three to five brigades should be sent to Baghdad and one more to Anbar province. About 3,500 to 4,000 troops are in a brigade.
Most of the discussion about Bush's new plan has focused on U.S. troop strength, but the strategy he will unveil also will address political and economic issues. "The clear, hold and build counterinsurgency strategy requires a focus on all three," White House counselor Dan Bartlett said. "Our strategy will reflect that point."
Military analysts say Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who recently finished his tour as the No. 2 general in Iraq, has recommended a short-term jobs program.
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