EL PASO, Nov 29: President George Bush warned on Tuesday that withdrawing US troops from Iraq immediately would be a ‘huge’ and ‘terrible mistake’. Mr Bush said the US strategy in Iraq is based on assessments made by commanders on the ground.
“The commanders will make the decisions. See, that’s what the people want. The people don’t want me making decisions based upon politics. They want me to make decisions based upon the recommendation from our generals on the ground,” the US leader said during a visit to this southwestern city.
“We’ve heard some people say pull them out right now. That’s a huge mistake. It’d be a terrible mistake,” he said.
“It sends a bad message to our troops. And it sends a bad message to our enemy and to the Iraqis,” he said.
“We will make decisions about troop levels based upon the capacity of the Iraqis to take the fight to the enemy. And I will make decisions based upon the level of troops. Based upon the recommendations by the commanders on the ground,” Mr Bush said.
WHITE HOUSE: The White House said on Tuesday that Iraqi forces should be sufficiently trained to permit a reduction in US troops in Iraq next year as President George W. Bush worked to convince an increasingly wary American public that his strategy can succeed.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush would focus in a speech on Wednesday at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on efforts to train Iraqi security forces to take over for the 155,000 US troops now in Iraq.
“The president believes the American people should have a clear understanding of our strategy,” McClellan told reporters travelling with Bush in El Paso, where he toured a section of the US-Mexican border.
McClellan said the White House would also release on its website an unclassified document describing the administration’s ‘national strategy’ for Iraq. It was unclear what, if any, new information the document would include.
McClellan said Bush would use Wednesday’s speech to argue against setting ‘arbitrary timetables’ for US troops to withdraw from Iraq. But McClellan said a shift was expected next year.—Reuters