Commander in Iraq Thanks Troops Who 'Shaped History'
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2005 The general in charge of coalition forces in Iraq took to the airwaves Feb. 2 to thank troops in the country for their work in the success of Iraq's Jan. 30 national assembly election.
Speaking on Freedom Radio, the American Forces Network's radio operation that broadcasts news and entertainment to U.S. forces throughout Iraq, Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said he wanted personally to thank Multinational Force Iraq troops "for their contribution to that great Iraqi success on Sunday."
The general told his military radio audience that the opportunity to participate in something as significant as the successful election doesn't come along often in a military career.
"You shaped history on Sunday," he said, "and I wanted you to hear that from me, and I wanted you to feel very, very proud about what you've done."
Casey called the successful election a great victory, both for the Iraqi people and for freedom, and credited multinational forces with making the victory possible. "Your presence and preparations allowed the Iraqi people to defy terrorism and to embrace democracy as a way ahead for the nation of Iraq," the general said.
Iraqi forces performed admirably on election day, Casey said, noting they had been trained by coalition troops. "The stories about Iraqi heroes abound that day," the general said. "No polling station was penetrated by the insurgents. Iraqi security forces held their ground from north to south. There were no instances of anyone abandoning their post.
"And there were stories of Iraqi security forces throwing themselves on suicide bombers to protect the people in line," he continued. "That type of valor only comes from association with other great soldiers."
The general also told troops in Iraq he understands such successes don't happen by magic, and that their hard work over the last seven months created the conditions that made the election possible.
"Back in July, we set our sights on establishing what we call local control, countrywide, by the 31st of December," he said. "And by and large, you achieved that -- Najaf, Samarra, Tall Afar, Fallujah. We also set our sights on ensuring that there were no terrorist safe havens in Iraq prior to the elections. There aren't. You eliminated them. And the other piece of this significant success was the relentless growth and progress of the Iraqi security forces that you participated in and led. So as I said, nothing happens by magic; it happens through sweat and determination. And you all brought it off over the last seven months."
The successful election accomplished despite a campaign of intimidation and attacks by terrorists seeking to derail the process was a crushing blow to terror and a testament to good planning, the general told the radio audience. "We defeated the terrorists -- you defeated the terrorists -- on a day that they said they had to have," Casey said. "The level of attacks on that day, on the election day, were higher than any other day since we've been in Iraq, yet the effects were minimal. And they were minimal because of your planning and preparation."
Families of military people also had a hand in the election's success, Casey told the radio audience. "I'd like you to let your families and the families of our fallen comrades know that together we helped the Iraqi people overcome 35 years of tyranny and participate in the democratic process for the first time in half a century," he said. "Please thank your families and the families of our fallen comrades for their fervent support throughout this period."