Bremer: U.S. Sent Too Few Troops

From the Washington Post

L. Paul Bremer III, former head of the U.S.-led occupation authority in Iraq, said Monday that the United States did not deploy enough troops and then failed to contain violence and looting immediately after the ouster of President Saddam Hussein.

Bremer, administrator for the Coalition Provisional Authority until the hand-over of political power June 28, said that he still supported the decision to intervene in Iraq but that a lack of adequate forces hampered the occupation and efforts to end the looting early on.

“We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness,” he told an insurance conference in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. “We never had enough troops on the ground.”


Bremer’s comments echoed contentions of other critics of the Bush administration, including Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry, who say the U.S. government failed to plan adequately to maintain security in Iraq after the invasion.

On Sept. 17 at DePauw University, Bremer said, “The single most important change -- the one thing that would have improved the situation -- would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout” the occupation, according to the Banner-Graphic in Greencastle, Ind.

In a statement Monday night, Bremer said he fully supported the administration’s plan for training Iraqi security forces and its overall strategy in Iraq.

“I believe that we currently have sufficient troop levels in Iraq,” he said in an e-mailed statement. He said all references in recent speeches to troop levels applied to the situation when he arrived in Baghdad in May 2003 -- “and when I believed we needed either more coalition troops or Iraqi security forces to address the looting.”