There was a bit of consternation among Pentagon leaders when L. Paul Bremer's book about his Iraq consulship came out. Bremer seemed to be saying that way back in 2003, he was telling Condi Rice that we didn't have enough troops in Iraq to settle the country after the war. One Pentagon senior official I spoke to said Bremer had never mentioned it to DoD which, at least supposedly, he worked for. In today's NYT, Bremer backs off. The money quotes:
"First, repairing the damage to Iraq by decades of tyranny was never going to be easy, and I made some mistakes… For example, consider our efforts to ban senior Baath Party officials from public office. This was the proper decision — the party had been a key instrument of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship — and our policy was intended to affect only the top 1 percent or so of party members…
"Last, much attention has been paid to my concern about the need to retain adequate manpower to defeat the terrorists and insurgents. Our military leaders said they had sufficient forces to ensure law and order, and that additional soldiers might increase Iraqi hostility. Theirs was a respectable argument. But I disagreed with it. And while I had concerns about the quality of Iraqi forces two years ago, their training has since been revamped. Today they are playing an increasingly important role in defending Iraq."
Bremer is being honorable about the disagreement, but not entirely about when it occurred. If he said anything about it to DoD, it wasn't until shortly before he left in 2004. The issue of how large our troop "footprint" is in Iraq is as major a concern today as it was then. Which is one of the reasons we'll be reducing the number of troops in Iraq significantly this year.