Bush: I'm Not Going To Be Rushed On Iraq

President Bush speaks at Pentagon re: Iraq strategy (12/13/06)
President Bush said Wednesday he's "not going to be rushed" into a decision on a strategy change for Iraq, saying that in a round of consultations he heard both some interesting ideas and some "ideas that would lead to defeat."

"And I reject those ideas," Mr. Bush said after meeting with top generals and Defense Department officials at the Pentagon. He said those ideas included "leaving before the job is done, ideas such as not helping this (Iraqi) government take the necessary and hard steps to be able to do its job"

A senior military officer directly involved in the deliberations over the new strategy told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin there "probably" will be a surge of U.S. troops into Iraq in an attempt to keep the lid on violence in Baghdad. But he ruled out a massive buildup of combat forces, adding, "The Iraqis would never stand for that."

According to this officer, neither the number nor the types of troops that would be sent into Baghdad has been decided, Martin reports, although commanders in the field said they could use 15,000 to 20,000 more troops in the capital. They need trainers to embed in Iraqi units, engineers to undertake construction projects and staff officers to help run the Iraqi ministries as much as they need combat troops.

Most of all, they need the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to bridge Iraq's sectarian divides.

As for where a surge of troops would come from, adds Martin, the Army chief of staff will tell a Congressional panel tomorrow that he cannot meet expected troops demands without additional call-ups of the National Guard and reserves.

Mr. Bush spoke with reporters after wrapping up a round of high-level talks on revising his Iraq war policy. Earlier he spoke by telephone with two Kurdish leaders in Iraq as part of what the White House called efforts to forge a "moderate bloc" behind the shaky central government in Baghdad.

Mr. Bush emerged from the consultations to offer this assurance about his thinking on the new Iraq strategy: "We're not going to give up. The stakes are too high and the consequences too grave to turn Iraq over to extremists."

The president said he and the nation's top military commanders had "a very candid and fruitful discussion about how to secure this country and about how to win a war that we now find ourselves in."

President Bush made it clear that "there has been a lot of violence in Iraq. The violence has been horrific."

Although the White House initially had suggested that Mr. Bush would deliver his speech on Iraq strategy before Christmas, he has decided to delay it until early next year.

Defending that stance, Mr. Bush said, "I'm not going to be rushed into making a difficult decision ... a necessary decision."

Joined by Vice President Dick Cheney and outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush met with the military leaders and other members of his national security team at the Pentagon, where war commanders are calling for more U.S. trainers and equipment for beleaguered Iraqi forces.

He addressed some of his remarks to members of the U.S. military, including the some 140,000 troops now stationed in Iraq. "I appreciate their sacrifices, and I want them to know I'm focused on developing a strategy that will help them achieve their mission."

"I know there is a lot of debate at home, and our troops pay attention to that debate. It means I'm listening to a lot of advice to develop a strategy to help you succeed," he said.