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Report: US Plans to Speed Up Deployment of Iraqi Security Forces - 2003-10-30


The Bush administration is reported preparing to speed up plans to put Iraqi security forces on the streets of Baghdad and other areas where U.S. troops have come under attack.

The New York Times cites administration and military officials as saying the Pentagon has been told to revamp and accelerate current plans.

The newspaper says President Bush and senior officials realize this would mean putting thousands of Iraqis, acting now primarily as security guards, on the streets with only a few weeks of training. But the report says they think it is a risk worth taking.

The (New York) Times says the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General John Abizaid, has been pressing for an increase in the number of Iraqi civil defense personnel patroling with U.S. and British troops.

The report says General Abizaid also wants to increase the size of that force, because of the increasing sophistication and frequency of guerrilla attacks in Iraq.

More American soldiers have been killed in hostile action in Iraq since May first -- when President Bush declared major combat operations over -- than in the war to oust Saddam Hussein.

Pentagon officials say they are also considering shifting U.S. intelligence officers to counter-terrorism duties from their current task of searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Meanwhile, in response to the rise in terrorist attacks in Iraq, the United Nations and the Red Cross say they are temporarily scaling back their presence in the country, while evaluating the security situation.

U.S. officials say any decision from U.N. and the Red Cross to withdraw from Iraq may force other private aid agencies to reconsider their presence in the country, where their work is needed.

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