Khalilzad, Casey Release Joint Statement on Troop Reduction
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2005 The U.S. ambassador to Iraq and the commander of coalition forces there issued a joint statement in the wake of today's announcement of a reduction in U.S. forces in Iraq.
Zalmay Khalilzad and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. issued the following statement:
In a move we regard as a demonstration of the real progress in Iraq, the Iraqi Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of the Interior, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld today announced a reduction of U.S. forces by two brigades. That will bring down the total level from 17 brigades to 15.
We celebrate this force adjustment decision, made together by the Iraqi and United States governments, and it should be welcomed by the Iraqi people. This adjustment is an indication of the remarkable progress Iraq is making. It clearly demonstrates the dramatic increase in capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces. This move would not have been possible without the dedication, bravery and sacrifice of your Iraqi Security Forces.
Although we are adjusting our posture, we remain committed to the establishment of a free and stable Iraq. Coalition Force advisory teams embedded with the ISF continue to work hand-in-hand in training and operations. We will remain as long as requested to do so by the Iraqi government.
The ISF today exceed 200,000, and continue to grow, improve and conduct more and more independent operations each day. They proved themselves to the Iraqi people and the world during the October referendum, and again on Dec. 15. And now, we ask the Iraqi people to stand by them, have confidence in them and think about what they will do in the future. An Iraqi people, united behind their security forces and rejecting terror and violence will find peace and prosperity in the new Iraq.
As we said last week after the historic elections: We will stand by the Iraqi people until the Iraqis can stand on their own feet. We will work with the new Iraqi government to increase its capacity and achieve self-reliance. We will stand with our Iraqi allies in the fight for security through focused operations. We need to ensure that the Iraqi people have confidence and trust in their security institutions.
We continue to assess the security situation and conditions on the ground and will adjust the size composition of our mission and forces as necessary.
May God bless the people of Iraq.