Did the Bush Administration support the idea of troop reduction or withdrawal?
George W. Bush, MBA, 43rd US President, in a Nov. 30, 2005 speech titled "Remarks on the War On Terror" in Annapolis, MD, stated:
"My commanders tell me that as Iraqi forces become more capable, the mission of our forces in Iraq will continue to change...
We will increasingly move out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number of bases from which we operate, and conduct fewer patrols and convoys. As the Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop levels in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists."
Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense, wrote in a Nov. 6, 2005 classified memorandum to the White House, according to a Dec. 3, 2006 New York Times article titled "Rumsfeld's Memo of Options for Iraq War":
"In my view it is time for a major adjustment. Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough. Following is a range of options...
Begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and Coalition forces (start 'taking our hand off the bicycle seat'), so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country."
Colin Powell, MBA, former US Secretary of State, stated in a Dec. 25, 2005 interview on This Week with George Stephanopolous:
"Stephanopoulos: And next Christmas, fewer Americans will be serving in Iraq?
Powell: I'm quite sure of that. And I base that on two things. One, I don't think we can sustain this level of presence with the size force that we have. You can't keep sending them back over and over. So I think the numbers will come down for that reason.
And the other reason is, I think that by next year we should have built up, and I think we're well on our way to building up, the Iraqi forces to a point where they can take over more of the burden, both the military and police forces."
John Reid, PhD, former British Defense Secretary, wrote in a secret memo, marked "Secret -- UK Eyes Only," to Prime Minister Tony Blair, according to Alan Cowell and David S. Cloud's July 11, 2005 New York Times article titled "British Memo Details a Plan To Cut Troops":
"The document, titled 'Options for Future U.K. Force Posture in Iraq,'...refers to 'strong U.S. military desire' to hand over control to Iraqi forces in 14 out of 18 provinces. However, the memo said, while planners at the Pentagon favored a 'relatively bold reduction,' American commanders on the ground in Iraq were urging caution...
The British memo discusses a possible reduction in overall troop strength, including the United States and its allies, from 176,000 to 66,000 in 2006."
George W. Casey, MA, US Army General and former Senior Coalition Commander in Iraq, stated in an exchange with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) at a Sep. 29, 2005 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee:
"SEN. MCCAIN: Are you planning on troop withdrawals for next year?
GEN. CASEY: I just said that, Senator, yes, I mean --
SEN. MCCAIN: Yes or no?
GEN. CASEY: Yes, Senator. I do believe that the possibility for troop -- for condition-based reductions of coalition forces still exists in 2006."
Scott McClellan, former White House Press Secretary, stated in a Nov. 29, 2005 press briefing:
"And I expect [the President will] talk about as the Iraqi security forces increase their experience and capability and the Iraqis make progress on the political front, then we will be able to reduce the number of our troops in Iraq, as well, but that that will be based on conditions on the ground. It's a conditions-based approach."
George W. Bush, MBA, 43rd US President, in an Aug. 11, 2005 press conference, stated:
"I also have heard the voices of those saying, pull out now, and I've thought about their cry, and their sincere desire to reduce the loss of life by pulling our troops out. I just strongly disagree. Pulling the troops out would send a terrible signal to the enemy.
Immediate withdrawal would say to the Zarqawis of the world, and the terrorists of the world, and the bombers who take innocent life around the world, you know, the United States is weak; and all we've got to do is intimidate and they'll leave."
Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense, stated in an Aug. 3, 2006 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee:
"I know there are calls in some quarters for withdrawal or arbitrary timelines for withdrawals. The enemies hear those words, as well. We need to be realistic about the consequences. If we left Iraq prematurely, as the terrorists demand, the enemy would tell us to leave Afghanistan and then withdraw from the Middle East...
And then we would face not only the evil ideology of these violent extremists, but an enemy that will have grown accustomed to succeeding and telling free people everywhere what to do. We can persevere in Iraq, or we can withdraw prematurely until they force us to make a stand near home. But make no mistake, they're not going to give up, whether we acquiesce in their immediate demands or not."
Carter Ham, MA, Brigadier General and Deputy Director for Regional Operations for the Joint Staff, stated in a May 23, 2006 Associated Press article by Terence Hunt titled "White House Plays Down Troop Withdrawal":
"At the Pentagon, Brig. Gen. Carter Ham told reporters that he is unaware of any numerical target for troop cuts this year, and he cautioned against expecting major reductions before Iraqi troops show they can handle the insurgents.
'We want to do it as soon as we can but you can't do it too fast,' said Ham. He cautioned against 'rushing to failure.'"
James T. Conway, Lieutenant General and US Marines
34th Commandant of the Marine Corps, in a June 16, 2005 Department of Defense news briefing, stated:
"We believe that this global war on terrorism is not going to be ended, necessarily, with Iraq and Afghanistan. And we didn't start this fight. So I don't know that it's our option to simply withdraw at this point until such time as this whole concept of the global war on terrorism is -- [statement ends due to an interruption]."
Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary at the time of the quote, stated in a June 16, 2005 press briefing:
"Q: These members of Congress have now introduced a resolution calling for a withdrawal by a date certain. What's your formal reaction --
MR. McCLELLAN: ...Let me make a couple of points. We all want our troops to return home soon. The best way to get our troops home and to honor them is to complete the mission in Iraq. That means continuing to train Iraqi forces so that they can take over all of the security of their own country and provide for their own defense.
There are a lot of families here at home that want to see those troops come home. The President wants to see those troops come home. But it's important that we complete the mission because this is critical to winning the war on terrorism and defeating the terrorists."