LONDON – Former Secretary of State Colin Powell advised President Bush before the Iraq war to send more troops to the country, but the administration did not follow his recommendation, Powell said in an interview broadcast Sunday.
Critics accuse Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of failing to send enough soldiers to secure the peace in Iraq after the invasion three years ago.
Powell said he gave the advice to now retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who developed and executed the Iraq invasion plan, and Rumsfeld while the president was present.
"I made the case to Gen. Franks and Secretary Rumsfeld before the president that I was not sure we had enough troops," Powell said in an interview on Britain's ITV television, according to a transcript released by the network. "The case was made, it was listened to, it was considered. ... A judgment was made by those responsible that the troop strength was adequate."
Powell, who served as chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Gulf War, is known for his belief in deploying decisive force with a clear exit strategy in any conflict.
"The president's military advisers felt that the size of the force was adequate, they may still feel that years later. Some of us don't, I don't," Powell said. "In my perspective, I would have preferred more troops but you know, this conflict is not over."
"At the time the president was listening to those who were supposed to be providing him with military advice," Powell said. "They were anticipating a different kind of immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad, it turned out to be not exactly as they had anticipated."
Rumsfeld has rejected criticism that he had sent too few U.S. troops to Iraq, saying that Franks and two other generals who oversaw the campaign's planning — John Abizaid and George Casey — had determined the overall number of troops, and that he and Bush agreed with them.