President George W. Bush's plan to add 21,500 troops in Iraq could actually result in an increased US military force in Iraq of up to 48,000 troops, a congressional report concluded.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that when non-combat support troops are taken into account, the actual number of additional troops deployed in Iraq could reach between 35,000 and 48,000.
The CBO said the administration's "surge" in troops could cost between 20 billion to 27 billion dollars over the first 12 months of the deployment.
Under Bush's plan, five army combat brigades and two marine battalions totaling more than 21,500 troops will be added to the 138,000-strong US force in Iraq and put mainly in Baghdad in an attempt to break the cycle of sectarian violence there.
No additional support units have been ordered deployed as yet as part of the buildup.
"I would say that the estimate provided by the CBO in their worst case scenario is far above what is needed," said a senior Pentagon official, who asked not to be identified.