Detailing Success Doesn't Mean Sugarcoating in Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2003 Detailing successes in Iraq does not mean the Defense Department is trying to put a happy face on the conflict, Defense Secretary Donald. H. Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon press conference today.
"Some have said that any statement that raises awareness of these successes is putting an optimistic face on a difficult security situation," he said. "Not so."
The secretary said that every time he has discussed the situation in Iraq he has stressed that the situation is dangerous and that there will be setbacks. "Nonetheless, we have made an effort to point out the progress because until we did, progress was being largely ignored by the press," he said.
The American people were getting a skewed view as the press concentrated on terrorist bombings and sabotage without showing the achievements Americans have racked up in the country, Rumsfeld said.
The secretary said progress is being made despite the difficult security situation. He said the coalition has done in months what took years to do in post-war Germany or Japan. "They've done it under fire while fighting a dangerous low-intensity conflict," he said.
The secretary said remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime and terrorists are attacking the successes that are occurring. "They are killing an increasingly large number of Iraqis," he said. "Those attacks will not deter the coalition. We will stay in Iraq as long as necessary to finish the job."
Rumsfeld said almost 100,000 Iraqis now are involved in providing security in the country. This is expected to rise to 140,000 by the end of the year, and soon the Iraqis working in security will outnumber the coalition forces in the country, he added.
The coalition is working on new tactics, techniques and procedures to combat the new terrorist attacks. "Terrorists can attack at any time, any place, using any technique," Rumsfeld said. "There are no short-term fixes to these problems. The attacker has the advantage, and that is why the task is to root out terrorists and terrorist organization wherever they are -- to find them, and to capture them or kill them. That is what we are doing."
He said the terrorists clearly are being financed, "because we found money on them." He said he doesn't doubt that some criminals have been hired, or that foreign terrorists are being hired. "We know that there are Baathists and regime remnants that were trained to do this type of thing," he said. He pointed to similarities in explosive devices used in the attacks as another piece of evidence.
The Iraqi contribution is going to be key to ensuring stability, Rumsfeld said, and the coalition is adding money and setting higher goals for the Iraqi security forces. The secretary said the coalition got more countries to assist training and to adjust techniques.
The secretary said the recruits will be directed to where they are needed. The areas are the Iraqi police, the Civil Defense Corps, the Site Protection Service, the Border Patrol and the Iraqi army. Officials will move recruits to the biggest areas of need. There are differences in how much training and equipment are needed for the various security groups, he added. The police, which is an immediate need, get eight weeks of training. The site protection group needs the least training. The Iraqi army will require the most, Rumsfeld said.
The situation will improve as the president's emergency supplemental funding request gets closer to passage by Congress, Rumsfeld said. He reminded reporters that not only American and coalition forces face danger more than 80 Iraqis have died in terrorist attacks. "It's not like these people are standing around not doing anything," Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld said he had seen videotapes shot by Iraqis of atrocities committed by Saddam's regime. "These tapes portray a regime about as viscous as any regime could be," he said. "When you have people cutting off people's tongues, and cutting off people's heads, and cutting off their fingers, and cutting off their hands, throwing them off buildings, you learn something about how they treated their people. We are so fortunate they are gone and those 23 million people are liberated."