Insurgents Will Keep Fighting Until Elections, General Says
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2005 Despite a relatively uneventful constitutional referendum in October, insurgents in Iraq have not given up, and officials expect more violence leading up to scheduled December elections, a senior military official said at a news conference in Baghdad today.
"We're fighting our way to the elections," Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, said. "I've told you ... that the insurgency didn't go away. But let it be known, at the end of the day on the 15th of December, there's no doubt in anybody's mind that there'll be elections conducted in a safe and secure environment for the people of Iraq."
In the run-up to the Iraqi referendum, insurgent attacks averaged 90 a day. In the past week, that number dropped to about 81 per day, Lynch said. He said the attacks will increase as Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi works to achieve his goal of derailing democracy in Iraq. Coalition and Iraqi forces will increase operations to prevent these attacks, he added.
More and more, Iraqi security forces will lead operations, Lynch said. More than 120 Iraqi army and police battalions are in the fight, with 30 percent of those battalions able to take the lead on security operations. Iraqi forces have planned, led and conducted more 1,300 recent operations, he said.
Roughly 211,000 members of the Iraqi army and police are trained and equipped, Lynch said. The current 111,000 Iraqi police are well over half of the anticipated full force of 195,000.
The Iraqi Defense Ministry created a localized unit, known as "Desert Protectors," in Anbar province. The Iraqi army unit will complete training shortly. "They've got amazing access to intelligence," Lynch said. "These are the people of al Anbar saying 'We want to be part of evicting the insurgents from our province,' and they joined to be used in their province."
Coalition officials have established a counterinsurgency academy in Taji. The academy will use lessons learned from the war to teach counterinsurgency techniques to coalition and Iraqi company commanders and above.
Finally, coalition attack aircraft took out an insurgent command-and-control bunker discovered near Ramadi, where an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter crashed Nov. 2, Lynch said.