Wolfowitz Says Patience Key to Success in War on Terror
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
OMAHA, Jul. 10, 2004 What American soldiers are doing in the global war on terrorism is every bit as important as what their grandparents did in World War II, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said here July 9.
The deputy secretary did not mince words about terrorists. "Our forces today face the most recent evil mutation of totalitarianism. It's not religion; it's an evil."
Wolfowitz also told the Omaha Chamber of Commerce that America must be patient and stay for the long haul in Iraq.
As difficult as it is to be patient, "especially when American blood is being spilled," it will work to our advantage, Wolfowitz said. "Paradoxically, the more patience the enemy thinks we have, the sooner we will win," he said. "Their only hope is that they will somehow outlast us, that we will withdraw our support for the Iraqi people before they have the capacity to defend themselves and their new government."
Wolfowitz came to Nebraska for the change of command of U.S. Strategic Command at nearby Offutt Air Force Base.
He told the businessmen and women that American troops are helping transform two formerly totalitarian states into America's newest allies. Afghanistan and Iraq -- both on the road to becoming free nations that respect the rights of all -- could be "champions of moderation and freedom in the Muslim world."
Wolfowitz told the Nebraskans that Americans serving today are changing history in ways that will make the world safer.
Wolfowitz said the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, delivered a rude and bloody awakening to Americans. Following the attacks, America realized it was "in the middle of a war that had been declared on us some years before. We didn't go looking for this fight; it came to us."
The terrorist extremists who declared war targeted not only America but also any people who support the ideals of freedom, pluralism, democracy and economic development. "They declared war particularly on Muslims who don't share their twisted view of the teachings of that great religion," Wolfowitz said.
The deputy secretary said the global war on terrorism is an intelligence war, and rarely is it possible to get a perfect picture. He said U.S. leaders are not going to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt. "If we wait until (the terrorists') intentions are clear -- clear beyond a reasonable doubt -- we will probably have waited too long," he said.
The United States and the anti-terrorism coalition must support Afghanistan and Iraq as those countries strive to build their new governments. The world is reaching out. In Afghanistan, there are 9,000 non-U.S. troops from more than 40 countries helping, Wolfowitz said.
The Afghans have adopted a constitution that gives equal rights to men and women and protects the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. "In another historic milestone, the country is looking to elections in the fall," Wolfowitz said. More than 6 million people have so far registered to vote, with 40 percent being women.
Wolfowitz said NATO has agreed to continue the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul and will beef up troop strength throughout the country as elections approach.
The deputy secretary said the same level of international assistance is visible in Iraq. Many NATO allies -- albeit not under the NATO umbrella -- are helping in Iraq. Many other countries are also providing troops. One hundred and twenty allies have been killed in these operations.
"Special forces from little El Salvador are in the fight, and military engineers from a country that didn't even exist 20 years ago, Kazakhstan, have cleared more than half a million explosives," Wolfowitz said.
The United Nations will soon move back into Iraq to provide election expertise and assistance as Iraqis prepare for the election of their first freely elected government, in January.
With the new Security Council resolution, Wolfowitz said, he hopes even more countries will contribute peacekeeping forces to Iraq. Still, he said, he is realistic. "With more than 30,000 coalition troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and thousands more serving in Bosnia, Kosovo and peacekeeping efforts elsewhere, our allies are stretched thin," he said.
Afghans and Iraqis will make the most important contributions to the war effort.
Wolfowitz said the coalition has made great progress. In Afghanistan, German and U.S. officials have trained more than 19,000 Afghan police. The current strength of the Afghan National Army is more than 10,000 and growing.
In Iraq, the return of sovereignty June 28 has clearly made a difference, he said. "Now that Iraq's future is clearly in their own hands, it is already making a big difference in how they see their future and the way they fight," he said. "The big challenge now will be to pull off elections at the end of this year (and) the beginning of next in the face of an evil enemy, an enemy that is determined to stop progress in the country."
There are more than 200,000 troops in Iraqi security forces. "While those numbers are impressive for a force that didn't even exist more than a year ago, numbers alone are admittedly misleading," Wolfowitz said. "Iraqi forces still have shortcomings in training, equipment and leadership."
Recent battles in Fallujah and the militia challenges in Karbala and Najaf in April highlighted those shortcomings. Many Iraqi police ran; many simply didn't report; "but many others stood their ground and behaved credibly," Wolfowitz said.
The deputy said equipment is now "flooding" into the area. "With the equipment is a new sense of pride and self- confidence as the Iraqis see themselves fighting for an Iraqi government under Iraqi officers," he said. "They are no longer an occupied nation. I believe that makes a very big difference."