Sunday, April 16

Troop Estimates

In February 2003 General Shinseki, who had commanded the NATO peacekeeping force in Iraq, testified in Congress that peacekeeping operations in Iraq could require several hundred thousand troops, in part because it was a country with "the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems."

Days later, Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the second-ranking official at the Pentagon, called the estimate "wildly off the mark," a sentiment that Mr. Rumsfeld repeated in unusual public comments that were widely interpreted in Washington as a rebuke to General Shinseki.

Mr. Wolfowitz told Congress then that the American force could be sufficiently smaller than Mr. Shinseki had estimated because the Iraqis would welcome the Americans and because the country had no history of ethnic strife and was unlike Bosnia. Just this week, commanders on the ground in Iraq have said the current sectarian strife there reminded them of the situation in the former Yugoslavia.