(Videotape, March 16, 2003):
MR. RUSSERT: The armyís top general said that we would have to have several hundred thousand troops there for several years in order to maintain stability.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I disagree. To suggest that we need several hundred thousand troops there after military operations cease, after the
conflict ends, I donít think is accurate. I think thatís an overstatement.
MR. RUSSERT: We, in fact, have about 140,000 troops, 20,000 international troops, as well. Did you misjudge the number of troops necessary to secure Iraq after major combat operations?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, youíre going to get into a debate here aboutótalking about several years, several hundred thousand troops for several years. I think thatís a non-starter. I donít think we have any plan to do that, Tim. I donít think itís necessary to do that. Thereís no question but what weíve encountered resistance. But I donít think anybody expected the time we were there to be absolutely trouble-free. We knew there were holdover elements from the regime that would fight us and struggle. And we also knew al-Qaeda was there, and Ansar al-Islam, up in northeastern Iraq, which weíll come back to, talk about in a minute.
So I donít think there was a serious misjudgment here. We couldnít know precisely what would happen.
There were a lot of contingencies we got ready for that never did happen. You know, for example, one of the things we spent time worried about was that Saddam would destroy his own oil industry, that heíd do in Iraq what he did in Kuwait 12 years ago. The consequence of that, if heíd gone in and blown up those wells, as they contemplated doing, in fact wired some of them for destruction, would have been that the oil industry would have been shut down to zero production, probably for several years, while we tried to restore it. We were able to defeat that. That didnít occur. We had plans for it that we didnít have to execute or implement. So itís like any other process. A plan is only as good until you start to execute, then you have got to make adjustments and so forth. But I donít think there has been a major shift in terms of U.S. troop levels. And I still remain convinced that the judgment that weíll need ďseveral hundred thousand for several yearsĒ is not valid