Pentagon Plans Iraq Troop Expansion

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," December 1, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: The White House just announced it's increasing the number of American soldiers in Iraq to the highest level of the war so far. The plan is to expand from 138,000 troops today to about 150,000 by January. That's more men and women on the ground than the day we toppled Saddam's regime in March of 2003.

Joining us from Washington is the host of FOX News "War Stories," Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North (search). He's also got a new book "War Stories II, Heroism in the Pacific." Welcome, Ollie.

LT. COL. OLIVER NORTH, U.S. MARINE CORPS (RET.): Greta, how's the weather out there in California? It looks cold.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's a little bit nippy, I do confess but they allow heaters here.

All right, Ollie, why are we going up to 150,000 troops and what about our coalition, can't they kick in some troops?

NORTH: Same reason we did it in Afghanistan when I was reporting for you just before the election in Afghanistan. The U.S. Army and the U.S. Marines had beefed up for Afghanistan's elections on the 9th of October and I told you then that they were going to have to do the same thing in Iraq that they'd done in Afghanistan.

The reason for this is to make sure that this election actually happens. Greta, the turning point for this war was the battle for Fallujah that's now just about wrapped up and all of the work that's got to be done to rebuild that city and that election on the 30th of January.

A very wise move on the part of the current interim regime not to delay that election and it needs the support of additional troops to make sure that that election actually takes place and becomes the kind of fair and free election we saw in Afghanistan.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ollie, does that mean though the troops that we sent over in Afghanistan for that election have they now come home? Have we reduced that additional amount we sent? That's over now that the election is over?

NORTH: Oh, yes. In fact, shortly after that election was held a lot of — in fact some of the troops from the 82nd Airborne Division (search) who will be going to Iraq were in Afghanistan to cover those elections. They deployed for a relatively short period of time and came home.

The Marine and Army units that are being extended out there allows them not to have to redeploy as many but the important thing is that turning point, the battle for Fallujah and this 30 January election are crucial to ending not just the war in Iraq but the global war on terrorism.

Because once this election is held the message is clear to the jihadists that they cannot prevail and what they're going to have to do is face the realities in the neighboring countries where they're not supporting us at all.

I heard your question about the coalition. Suddenly there's going to be a new reality in Riyadh, Amman, Damascus, Tehran that democracy is working in Baghdad and people next door are going to start asking the question if it's working there, why isn't it working here? Those troops are going to be crucial to making sure that that election takes place.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ollie, in light of the fact that many of our troops will be imposed upon by us asking them to stay longer...

NORTH: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ...when can they expect to come home? I mean how much longer are they likely to have to stay those that are being asked to stay longer, extend?

NORTH: Well, I think everybody expects that the violence is going to get worse between now and the election. I think there's going to be a last ditch effort, just like the Japanese did in World War II in that book that you put up just a few moments ago.

There's going to be a last ditch almost fanatical effort to try to prevent this election from taking place and so those additional troops that will start cycling in here in the next few days are going to be essential to holding it together.

A relatively short period of time afterwards the new Iraqi government takes over and those American troops are going to start to phase out. I would not be at all surprised that within six months of the elections you see a lower number of troops in Iraq than you have there right now, set aside those that are being extended and those that are being redeployed to go out there and beef up for the elections.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You mentioned that book. I want to put that back up on the screen too, "War Stories II, Heroes in the Pacific." In the book, you draw a comparison between the battle in the Pacific, the war in the Pacific and the war on global terrorism. What are the parallels?

NORTH: Greta, if you don't understand the war in the Pacific, you can't understand the global war on terrorism. The adversary is almost identical. They have the same fanatical suicidal bent.

They have the same jihadist approach to driving the westerner, in the case of the Japanese out of the Pacific, that the jihadists have in the Middle East to driving they call us infidels out of what they call Islamic lands.

The brutality with which they deal with us and those who they decide are working with us is almost identical to what we saw happen in the Pacific, proudly standing Japanese officers and NCOs holding the heads of severed heads off the victims of those they just beheaded, those that they used for bayonet practice. We find exactly the same thing in those slaughterhouses in Fallujah.

They use the media proudly showing themselves literally perpetrating horrific atrocities against westerners because they believe that gives them, if you will, a fulfillment of their holy mission.

Just like the Japanese had a holy mission to drive the westerners out of the Pacific, the jihadists believe they have a holy mission to drive infidels, Christians, Jews, westerners out of what they call Islamic lands.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. We only have 20 seconds left, Ollie, so I got to know are you going back to Iraq? You made a number of trips but are you headed — do you have any plans?

NORTH: Well, my expectation is that I probably will be back out there to cover the preparations for the elections, so mid-January thereabouts I think we ought to get the old man out there to put the camera in the face of those young troopers again.

VAN SUSTEREN: Good and I expect a videophone you'll have that as well so we can see it. Thank you, Ollie.

NORTH: You have my word. Thanks.

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