Cheney: Iraqi Forces About 75 Percent Ready to Take Over Own Security
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2006 The U.S. and coalition are “about 75 percent of the way there in terms of getting an Iraqi force that’s able to provide for their own security,” Vice President Richard B. Cheney said yesterday during an interview with National Public Radio.
Cheney told reporters during White House Radio Days that efforts to get the Iraqis into the fight and ensure they’re equipped and trained so they ultimately can provide their own security are on track and advancing steadily.
“That’s where we’re headed,” he told Sean Hannity of the Sean Hannity Show. “The process for getting there is to get the Iraqis actively involved in this process, to train and equip a 325,000-man force that’s capable of providing that security. That’s what it takes to complete the mission.”
While citing progress, the vice president emphasized that Iraq’s security forces still have “a long way to go” to reach that point, a goal that will determine when U.S. troops can begin returning home. “The sooner we do that, the sooner we can reduce our own presence and turn things over to (the Iraqis),” he told NPR.
Violence in the country is complicating this effort, Cheney acknowledged. He expressed disappointment that the political progress in Iraq hasn’t stemmed the violence as expected. “It hasn’t happened yet,” he said. “I can’t say that we’re over the hump in terms of violence, no.”
U.S. troop numbers, locations and tactics have adapted to changing circumstances on the ground, he said. “We change tactics from time to time. We move forces around different areas. Sometimes we’ve had to beef up our forces in order to deal with anticipated violence when there were national elections,” Cheney said. “We recently moved troops into Baghdad to help deal with the Baghdad security threat.
“So we are flexible in terms of how we adapt and adjust to individual circumstances,” he said.
Cheney called the current U.S. troop presence in Iraq appropriate for the job and expressed confidence in the assessments ground commanders are providing of what they need to get the job done.
“I think we get honest advice from them. I think (Army General) George Casey, (commander of Multinational Force Iraq), gives it to us straight in terms of what he thinks he needs,” Cheney said. “And if he thinks he needs more troops, we’ll send him more.”