New York - US General Tommy Franks, who commands US forces in Iraq, believes the occupation of Iraq could require more than 200 000 troops, depending on how events unfold, The New Yorker magazine reported on Sunday.
"If the fractious behavior subsides, and the Iraqis form all the city councils that are necessary in the 27 highest population centres in the 18 provinces, and things go very, very well, I think that the force level can come down rather dramatically, rather quickly," he told the magazine in its June 23 edition.
"The other bookend is the opposite of that, and that level - which I do not see being enhanced - would remain for a longer period of time," he said.
Franks also said just after the war ended that he thought Iraq's deposed leader Saddam Hussein could have been killed in the first strike against him.
"People can trick this, and think about it in a lot of different ways. But...I still haven't seen anything that convinces me that Saddam Hussein's alive," he said.
Asked about the lessons learned during the war, Franks praised the high-tech guided weapons and unmanned drones that defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld favours as a way to modernise the armed forces.
"We certainly have become believers in precision. We're certainly believers in unmanned aerial systems. What I think this confirmed for all of us is the value of training in the joint, combined, and interagency world. That is transformational," Franks said.
Franks is set to retire in early July.