November 2nd, 2006 02:32 EST
Rumsfeld: Changes in Iraqi force levels reflect dynamic situation
BAGHDAD — A planned increase in the Iraqi Security Force is a result of ongoing assessments of the situation in Iraq and will allow the Coalition Force to shift to more of a supporting role in that country, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday in Washington.
Speaking after a meeting with Estonian Defense Minister Jurgen Ligi at the Pentagon, Rumsfeld said plans for an increase in the Iraqi Force are on his desk, and he expects the Iraqi Government to announce the increase soon. The increase is based on recommendations from the Iraqi Government and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq.
“I’m very comfortable with the increases they’ve proposed and the accelerations in the achievement of some of their targets that they’ve proposed,” Rumsfeld said. “Now it’s simply a matter of our pressing forward and getting our portion of the funding from Congress and working to see that it’s executed.”
The numbers of the Iraqi Force has changed several times because the Iraqi Government has seen different leadership, and the United States is continually assessing the situation in Iraq and adjusting its recommendations, Rumsfeld said.
“The goal is to have the Iraqis have a number of security forces that are sufficiently capable, equipped and trained and effective that they can provide for the security for that country and support the government,” he said. “That’s the goal, and the sooner the better; we’ve said that all along.”
As the Iraqi Force increases, the Coalition will move away from traditional missions, such as combat patrols, Rumsfeld said. The Coalition will provide critical combat support functions for Iraqis and train the Iraqi Force until they develop their own support systems, he said.
The Iraqi Government has a complex job in developing a democracy and ridding the country of sectarian strife, Rumsfeld noted, but the will of the people is clearly united.
“Twelve million people in Iraq voted, and clearly the overwhelming majority of people in Iraq want a peaceful Iraq,” he said.
(Courtesy of American Forces Press Service)