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'US troop pull out a success of Bush's Iraq plan'

By Staff
Google Oneindia News

Washington, Jan 13: United States Defense Secretary Robert Gateshas linked the US troop pull out from Iraq to President George W Bush'srevised war plan, hoping that American troops may begin withdrawingfrom Iraq later this year if the plan leads to the reduction inviolence in the country.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he defendedPresident Bush's, plan announced last Wednesday, envisaging a dispatchof an additional over 20,000 troops to join 135,000 strong US forcethere.

He said the plan would not end sectarian violence altogether, buthe said if it made significant progress toward that end, it could leadto a drawdown of troops later this year.

Secretary Gates, however, said the results of the plan would beknown ''fairly quickly,'' and the effort to quell violence there has areasonable prospect of success if the Iraqis fulfill a variety ofexisting commitments.

Several senators expressed doubts about the efficacy of the planas it depended too much on the Iraqi government's performance which sofar has been far from satisfactory.

Gates, however, told the committee that first of the five new USbrigades would reach in Iraq in the middle of this month and US- Iraqioperations to stabilize Iraqi neighborhoods systematically will beginseriously ''around the first week of February.'' He said Iraq hasreached ''a pivotal point,'' and overcoming its steep challengesrequired more than military muscle.

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Peter Pace, who testifiedwith Gates, agreed the strategy of increasing the number of troops inIraq alone would not solve that nation's problems because there must bea change in the political environment as well.

Both Pace and Gates said the impetus for boosting the level oftroops in Iraq came directly from the commanders in the region, notWashington.


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