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Defense Leaders Outline Conditions for Success in Iraq, Coalition Progress

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2003 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today outlined the conditions to be met for the coalition to achieve its goals in Iraq: Iraqi self- governance, responsibility for its own internal security and a growing economy that encourages people "to come back to the country rather than leave."

Also critical, he told Pentagon reporters, is that Iraq remain one country that does not pose a threat to its neighbors and that it "have a governance system that is respectful of the diverse elements within the country religious and ethnic."

Rumsfeld acknowledged that achieving these goals, which he called "the vision, the direction, and the hope of the coalition countries," is not going to happen overnight.

"This is going to take some time," he said. "It has taken time in every country on the face of the earth when they go from a dictatorship to something like that."

But Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters the coalition continues to make solid progress in working with the Iraqi people toward achieving these goals.

Foremost, they said, is the continuing effort to rid the country of forces working actively and violently to prevent forward progress.

Myers said the past six weeks have witnessed stepped-up coalition attacks against former regime elements that he said "are attacking the future of Iraq." Many of the coalition efforts, he said, are supported by a "dramatic spike" in the number of Iraqis providing intelligence reports to coalition forces.

During the past 24 hours alone, Myers said, coalition forces captured 76 suspected enemy personnel, rounded up 66 grenades and confiscated 4,200 small-arms rounds and three SA-7 weapons.

"And most of these arms caches were pointed out to us by Iraqis," he said.

As a result of these efforts, Myers said attacks on coalition forces are down. "But they do continue, as witnessed by the truck bomb that exploded west of Mosul earlier this morning," he said.

Although he declined to call the reduction in attacks a trend, Rumsfeld agreed that conditions in Iraq, which he witnessed firsthand during his visit there last week, demonstrate that the coalition is making headway.

"That's not to say the attacks are over," Rumsfeld said. "They are not. The road ahead, I'm afraid, will be difficult, and the dangers remain.

"But the coalition will prevail," he said. "We'll continue taking the battle to the terrorists. And as the president has said, the coalition will stay as long as it takes to finish the job and leave only when the task is finished."

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