Rumsfeld, Myers Cite Coalition Accomplishments in Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2003 Americans everywhere should be thankful for service members serving in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today.
"We're truly fortunate there are so many wonderful young men and women who are willing to step forward and volunteer to serve," he said at a Pentagon news conference. "Their accomplishments deserve full recognition."
The secretary delivered a list of coalition accomplishments for the week of Nov. 17-23. During that time, coalition service members conducted almost 12,000 patrols and more than 230 targeted raids. They captured about 1,200 enemy forces and killed 40 to 50 and wounded 25 to 30. "It provides a sense of the determined offensive pressure which the coalition is applying against the enemy," Rumsfeld said.
In one day, soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division in the Baathist Triangle of Baghdad, Ramadi and Tikrit confiscated a huge stock of weapons. Included in their catch were 17 AK-47 assault rifles, 11 other rifles, one pistol, three rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 53 grenades, six containers of artillery propellant, 60 120 mm and 250 60 mm mortar rounds, 50 blasting caps, 10 blocks of C-4 explosive, 10 sticks of TNT, 50 mortar fuses, and 40 spools of wire used to detonate improvised explosive devices.
Rumsfeld said that the number of attacks against coalition personnel has dropped, but the number of attacks against Iraqi targets has increased. He said this could work both ways. The former regime die-hards want to intimidate the Iraqi people, and they may succeed to a point, he said. But they also, with their indiscriminate killings, alienate the Iraqi people.
"Make no mistake. Former regime loyalists are intensifying their efforts and increasing the lethality of their attacks," said Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers. "These attacks against the coalition and against Iraqi citizens demonstrate the utter disregard for life these former regime loyalists hold in their efforts to create instability. It emphasizes the importance, I think, of our resolve to follow through with our mission, and we will."
Rumsfeld also listed the rebuilding accomplishments in Iraq. All the hospitals and 95 percent of the clinics are open. More power is being generated than in pre-war days. About 2.1 million barrels of oil are flowing from Iraqi wells for home consumption and for export earnings. The Iraqi courts are running, there are 170 free newspapers, and the education system has 5.1 million Iraqi children back in school, with 97,000 young Iraqi men and women applying for college.
Myers said there has been a slight increase in the number of attacks outside the Baathist Triangle. "We're still looking at what this means in terms of the strategy of the former regime elements that we're up against," he said.
Myers agreed with the assessment of U.S. Central Command's Army Gen. John Abizaid that the prime enemy in Iraq remains former regime elements trying to come back to power. "That's simply not going to happen," Myers maintained. "How they're tied regionally within Iraq and how they're tied nationwide is to be determined. We don't have as much insight there as we need, and we're working on that insight."
He said this will change as intelligence on the former regime foes piles in.