February 15th, 2007 02:41 EST
Rebuilding and securing Iraq will be a total team effort
BAGHDAD — The Multi-National Force – Iraq spokesman held an operational update briefing at the Combined PressInformation Center in the International Zone Wednesday to discuss Baghdad security and other issues.
“Militarily, the first additional Iraqi forces and the first of five additional U.S. brigades have arrived in Baghdad and are conducting operations,” said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, MNF-I spokesman.
Caldwell also said the non-military parts of the plan are in effect and have been strengthened.
“On February 8th, the Council of Representatives approved a new Iraqi budget that includes $10 billion for economic programs such as refurbishing state-owned enterprises and assisting small businesses through micro-financing,” he said.
“This week, the first state-owned enterprise won a competitive U.S. government procurement bid for $44 million to provide the new Iraqi Army uniforms.”
Caldwell said patience is needed with the new strategy.
“First, it will take time for all the additional troops being deployed to arrive and begin operations.
“Second, the non-kinetic efforts will take time to produce effects on the streets of Baghdad,” he said. “The government of Iraq’s economic development program, for example, places greater emphasis on long-term job creation, rather than “make-work” programs.
“Finally, most of Iraq’s problems are systemic, and the key to solving Iraq’s problems is Iraqi leadership,” Caldwell said.
In spite of the many challenges which lay ahead, Caldwell remained optimistic.
“Rebuilding and securing Iraq will be a total team effort requiring the cooperation of the government of Iraq, the U.S. government, Coalition forces, and Multi-National Force-Iraq,” he said. “It would be a mistake if expectations are raised so high that people give up on the new strategy.”
Caldwell also announced the beginning of the new Iraqi-conceived and Iraqi-led buildup called ‘Operation Law and Order.’
“It is an evolution of the previous phases with specific enhancements being made in the political, military and economic spheres based on the lessons learned from the past operations,” he said. “To win this conflict, we have to protect the population.”
“‘Hard is not hopeless,’” said Caldwell as he quoted MNF-I commander Gen. David H. Petraeus.
(By Spc. Carl N. Hudson, 10th Public Affairs Operations Center)