Inouye opposes more Iraq troops
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye hopes there will be enough public pressure placed on President Bush to keep him from increasing the number of soldiers and Marines fighting in Iraq.
But Inouye, who is against raising troop levels in that country, said he supports rebuilding the strength of the Army and Marine Corps.
Speaking at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii in Waikiki, he said any attempts by Bush to increase troop levels in Iraq "will just exacerbate a bad situation."
After the meeting, Inouye said he favors increasing the overall strength of the Army or Marines "by 50,000 or 60,000" because constant deployments have weakened the armed forces.
The president is believed to be considering sending up to 40,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. However, the Associated Press and other news services have said that number has been whittled down and could be as low as 15,000 to 20,000.
Inouye said public opinion could prevent Bush from raising troop levels in Iraq from the current 132,000 stationed there now.
The senator also said his vote against going to war with Iraq had been tempered by his World War II experience.
The Hawaii senator said any decision to go to war is "not an easy one, and many times it may be politically incorrect. ... Our decision may not only affect the future of our country, but also of our sons and daughters.
"The question you have to ask yourself is whether this mission or this cause is sufficiently important that I will put my son in harm's way. If you can't do that, then you'd better think again."
Lt. Gen. John Goodman, who leads Marines stationed on the West Coast and in the Pacific Basin and also attended the chamber luncheon, said any decision by Bush to raise troop levels could mean his Marine contingents in Iraq and Afghanistan would grow by 3,000 to 4,000.
Of the 6,000 Kaneohe Bay Marines he commands, more than 1,000 are now fighting in Iraq, with a few stationed in Afghanistan.
The Hawaii Army and Air National Guard now have about 75 people in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 60 more are expected to deploy this year, while others await orders. Also, about 4,000 soldiers from Schofield Barracks are in Iraq or Afghanistan.