Bush May Back Sending More Troops to Iraq

ByABC News
December 16, 2006, 3:47 PM

Dec. 16, 2006 — -- President Bush is likely to support a "surge" of additional U.S. troops to Iraq, officials familiar with planning believe.

The surge could include more than 30,000 additional troops and last as long as two years, sources tell ABC News. That could bring the total number of troops in Iraq to at least 164,000 -- the highest total yet.

The White House insists that no decisions have yet been made, and that the president continues to weigh his options.

Such a plan for more troops likely would be an attempt to stabilize Baghdad and Anbar province in western Iraq -- a last-ditch attempt to stabilize the heart of Iraq.

According to sources, the surge likely would start in Baghdad and then move to Anbar, with troops remaining behind in Baghdad to keep control of the capital city -- though the specific mission of any additional troops was still being worked out, as was how to measure their success.

But the top generals in the region warn that such a dramatic escalation would not only risk more American lives, it might discourage Iraqis from taking charge of their own security.

Late this week, the Army chief of staff told Congress his soldiers already are stretched too thin.

"As it currently stands," Gen. Peter Schoomaker said Thursday, "the Army is incapable of generating and sustaining the required forces to wage the global war on terror."

Still, President Bush has asked his military planners to figure out how to get the extra forces he wants. Among the ideas being considered are extending tours of duty from 12 to 15 months in the Army and seven to nine months in the Marines.

ABC News' Martha Raddatz and Geoff Morrell contributed to this report.