Congressman says troops needed to build an Iraq democracy -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Congressman says troops needed to build an Iraq democracy

January 25, 2005

Albany - The U.S. force in Iraq dipped to its lowest number since last summer. There are now about 136,000 Americans serving there, down from about 160,000 stationed in the fall.

About 17,000 soldiers in Georgia's Third Brigade, based at Fort Stewart, have come home now. A Pentagon spokesman says the extra forces for the October constitutional referendum and last month's parliamentary elections have been pulled out now.

Congressman Sanford Bishop said Tuesday that the troops must stay in Iraq now to help the country build its democracy.

"The nation building, or the democracy building, stage is where we are now. We've got to get the economic development and the government infrastructure working so it can function as a democracy. So the people can get back to normal and our people can come home. We can then get about the business of improving the quality of Americans' lives," said Rep. Sanford Bishop, (D) Georgia.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq said last month he expects the U.S. force to dip even lower by March, to about 130,000.