Bremer, interviewed by America’s NBC television in connection with release of his book on Iraq, recounted the decision to disband the Iraqi army quickly after arriving in Baghdad, a move many experts consider a major miscalculation.
When asked who was to blame for the subsequent Iraqi rebellion, in which thousands of Iraqis and Americans have died, Bremer said “we really didn’t see the insurgency coming,” the network said in a news release.
The network, which did not publish a transcript of the interview, added that Bremer’s comments suggested “the focus of the war effort was in the wrong place.”
The book, “My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope,” is due for release on Monday. The interview is scheduled to air on “Dateline NBC” on Sunday night.
“[T]here was a tendency by people in the Pentagon to exaggerate the capability of the Iraqi forces.”
Bremer also said he was deeply concerned about fighting insurgents and “became increasingly worried about the Pentagon’s push to downsize the number of US forces in Iraq by spring 2004,” the network said.
Bremer said he raised his concerns about the numbers and quality of forces with President George Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and senior military officials.
But he told NBC “there was a tendency by people in the Pentagon to exaggerate the capability of the Iraqi forces and I felt it was not likely we would have professionally trained forces to allow us to withdraw American forces in the spring of 2004.”
Asked if he believes he did everything he could do in Iraq, Bremer replied, “I believe I did everything I could do… The president, in the end, is responsible for making decisions,”
the network reported.