The US needs roughly 3,000 more Iraqi forces to join the battle in Baghdad, but requests for the troops have not been met because Iraqi soldiers are reluctant to leave their home regions, the commander of US forces in Baghdad said Friday.
Maj. Gen. James Thurman told Defense Department reporters that while the US has 15,000 troops in Baghdad - which military leaders say is the priority battlefront in Iraq - there are only about 9,000 Iraqi soldiers there. That is just a fraction of the 128,000 Iraqi Army troops that the US says are now trained and equipped.
Iraqi soldiers generally join battalions in their geographic regions, and Thurman said that "due to the distance, (they) did not want to travel into Baghdad." He said the Iraqi minister of defense is working on the problem, and "I'm confident that they're going to meet that requirement here within the next few weeks, but it's going to take a little time."
Thurman said he asked for the additional Iraqi forces early on in the Baghdad campaign, which began in June. He added, "I don't think putting more coalition (troops) in here is the right answer."