Casey Predicts Success in Iraq, Calls Mission 'Realistic'
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2005 The commander of coalition forces in Iraq today predicted success in what he called the "realistic" mission his troops are performing.
Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. spoke with NBC "Today" program host Matt Lauer in Baghdad.
"We're going to get where we want to be, and we're going to be successful here," Casey said. "I've been here a little over a year now, and the longer I'm here, the more comfortable I am that this mission is ... realistic and that we can achieve our objectives."
Although terrorists continue to launch more than five dozen attacks around Iraq each day, Casey pointed out that most are ineffective. "One of the interesting points is that of the 60 or 70 attacks a day, only around 20 of those attacks are effective (and) actually produce a casualty," he said. "And that has held true for months."
Though he said suicide bombings represent the biggest change in enemy tactics since the war in Iraq began, the general noted a downward trend in the number of attacks using suicide bombers and car bombs. "Over the last four months, suicide bombs have come down steadily," he said. "Car bombs have come down steadily for the last three months. We had a third less car bombs in July than there were in June."
The persistence of the insurgency has surprised some observers, but Casey said it's no surprise to people who study such issues. "If you're a student of history," he said, "you realize that the average insurgency in the 20th century has lasted nine years. And so there may have been people who expected this to be quick, but that's not the nature of insurgency, and that's not the nature of the war that we're fighting."
Casey said he expects Iraq to emerge with "a representative government that represents the human rights of all Iraqis (and) security forces that can maintain domestic order and deny Iraq as a safe haven for terrorists." He acknowledged that for now the country needs help to get there.
"The Iraqis will ultimately defeat the insurgency," he said. "And I believe when that happens, we'll be helping the Iraqis do that."
The general emphasized the U.S. commitment to see the mission through. "As far as the Iraqis having to defend themselves before they're ready, that's just not going to happen," he said. "The president has said we're going to stay here until the job is done."
With a new draft constitution expected on the near horizon and a national referendum on that constitution planned in October, Casey said the continued political progress means a "tough fight" still lies ahead.
"We've said repeatedly we expect the political process to be contested," the general said. "If you're an insurgent looking at this, you don't like the outcome. The outcome (is going to be) the defeat of the insurgency."
Casey said troop morale is high. "The troops know what they're doing here," he said. "They know they're making a difference."