Indicators Show Progress Toward Stable Iraq, DoD Report States
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 21, 2005 Terrorists in Iraq have been unable to derail the political process, a new Defense Department report on Iraqi stability and security states. Still, the report contends, insurgents "remain capable, adaptable, and intent on carrying out attacks."
The report to Congress on measuring stability and security in Iraq says the inability of insurgents to derail political progress is a "noteworthy strategic indicator of progress toward a stable security environment."
"It's important that the political dimension is covered in this report, because, in an important sense, the strategic prize in Iraq is the political process," Peter Rodman, assistant secretary of defense of international security affairs, said today in a Pentagon news conference.
Jan. 30 elections in Iraq were a milestone in the political process, and Iraqi and U.S. officials believe they can meet the next important milestones -- to draft a constitution for the country by Aug. 15 and to hold a referendum on that draft by Oct. 15.
The report, required by Congress in the act authorizing the 2005 emergency supplemental spending package, looks at political, economic, and security progress.
Rodman called the economic side "a mixed picture." Unemployment in Iraq is high, and obstacles have hampered efforts toward increasing electricity and oil production.
However, there's "some positive news, as well," Rodman said, particularly in the area of business development. "We see a lot of economic activity as we see the beginnings of a modern market economy," he said.
The report looks at three metrics for measuring security in Iraq: success of the insurgency; rule of law -- how well the courts are progressing; and how Iraqi security forces are faring, said Army Lt. Gen. Walter Sharp, the Joint Staff's director of strategic plans and policy.
The important thing to keep in mind about the insurgency is that they're not meeting their strategic goal, the general told reporters. Iraqis are not letting the insurgents break their will, Sharp said.
The Iraqi Central Criminal Court has tried more than 300 criminal cases and has convicted at least 353 individuals, Sharp said, explaining that some cases included more than one defendant.
The Iraqi people increasingly are gaining confidence in Iraqi troops. "They see the Iraqi security forces out there in great numbers, in an attack against insurgents, trying to protect (civilians) across the board," Sharp said.
The unclassified version of the report does not include specific numbers of Iraqi forces that fall in certain categories of readiness. Officials said the same is true for readiness reports on U.S. troops for security reasons. "We do not want to give overall capabilities assessments to the enemy," Sharp said. A classified version with the full information has been delivered to Congress.
Attacks on military forces and on civilians are focused in four provinces, with the security situation being relatively stable in the rest of the country. In the four provinces, attacks on civilians are up, while attacks on coalition forces are down, Sharp said, noting insurgents "are now realizing they've got to attack softer targets."
The general said attacks on Iraqi forces are up slightly, but noted that should be expected because their numbers and involvement have steadily increased.
Attacks on infrastructure, however, are down. From June to November 2004, Iraq averaged 41 insurgent attacks on infrastructure targets per month. Since February, that number has been an average of seven per month. "The Iraqis are working very hard to help protect their infrastructure out there," Sharp said.