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DoD to Assist Security Efforts for U.S. Political Events

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2004 – The Defense Department is ready to provide support to safeguard this fall's Democratic and Republican national conventions and the presidential election, a senior U.S. military officer said here today.

"We support (Homeland Security) Secretary (Tom) Ridge in his operations," Army Brig. Gen. David Rodriquez, deputy operations director for the Joint Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.

Ridge warned Americans at a Washington news conference earlier in the day that al Qaeda is planning to attack somewhere in the United States between now and the national presidential election. He said al Qaeda "is moving ahead with its plans to carry out a large-scale attack in the United States in an effort to disrupt our democratic process."

Rodriquez said DoD "is watching the same threat streams" as Homeland Security and other federal, state and local agencies.

Turning to Iraq, Rodriquez said five U.S. soldiers were killed and 20 were wounded today during an insurgent attack on an Iraqi National Guard headquarters. News reports say two Iraqi guardsmen were killed and four were wounded during the mortar assault that occurred in Samarra, north of Baghdad. The headquarters building, also was used by U.S. troops, was damaged in the attack, according to news reports.

Rodriquez noted at the Pentagon briefing that the headquarters building has "since been evacuated and all personnel are accounted for."

In the past 24 hours, Rodriquez reported, more than 1,900 U.S.-coalition patrols were conducted in Iraq. More than 175 of these were jointly conducted with Iraqi police, he said, and 365 were conducted alongside Iraqi National Guardsmen. Iraqi Guard members, he added, conducted about 200 patrols on their own.

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Biographies:
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge
Ridge: Political Conventions Likely Terrorist Targets

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