WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday he is bracing for even more violence in Iraq and acknowledged that the insurgency “could go on for any number of years.”
Defeating the insurgency may take as long as 12 years, he said, with Iraqi security forces, not U.S. and foreign troops, taking the lead and finishing the job.
The assessment comes on the heels of the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll showing public doubts about the war reaching a high point – with more than half saying that invading Iraq was a mistake.
The top U.S. commander in the Middle East appealed for public support of the soldiers and their mission. “We don’t need to fight this war looking over our shoulder worrying about the support back home,” Gen. John Abizaid told CNN’s “Late Edition.”
In a deadly week for U.S. forces, an ambush on a convoy carrying female troops killed four Marines, and Naval reservist Regina Clark, 43, of Centralia, Wash., who was deployed nearly five months ago with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 18 out of Tacoma. At least 1,735 members of the U.S. military have died since the war started in March 2003, according to an AP count.
On Sunday, bombings in Mosul and elsewhere in Iraq killed at least 47 people, including a U.S. soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.
Speaking on Sunday talk shows, Rumsfeld said insurgents want to disrupt the democratic transformation as Iraqi leaders draft a constitution and plan for elections in December.
“I would anticipate you’re going to see an escalation of violence between now and the December elections,” the Pentagon chief told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” And after then, it will take a long time to drive out insurgents.
“Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years,” Rumsfeld said on “Fox News Sunday.”
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