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US considers increasing troops in Iraq

Published 10/12/2006

US President George Bush's national security team is debating whether additional troops are needed to boost security in Iraq.

It would be a short-term force increase that could be made up either of all

Americans, a combination of US and Iraqi forces, or even all Iraqis, a

Whitehouse official said last night.

However, military leaders have portrayed a surge of additional forces as an

unattractive option, and the Iraq Study Group did not recommend one.

The Iraq Study Group panel recommended a pullback of all American combat

brigades by early 2008 to shift the US mission to training and advising with

more soldiers embedded with Iraqi security forces.

Meanwhile, outgoing US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was in Iraq last

night on a surprise visit.

``He's there to express his appreciation to the troops and to thank both the

troops and their families for the sacrifices they are making,'' said a defence

department spokesman.

Mr Rumsfeld's trip follows an emotional farewell on Saturday at the Pentagon,

where he defended his record on Iraq and Afghanistan.

His last full day will be December 17.

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