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Wolfowitz: Security 'Real Problem,' but Situation Will Improve

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2003 – Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said security continues to be a real problem in Iraq, but that help from other nations and the Iraqi people is on the way.

Wolfowitz, who just returned from a four-day tour of Iraq, addressed the security situation Sunday during interviews on "Fox News Sunday" and NBC's "Meet the Press" July 27.

"The sacrifices that our troops are making are spectacular," he said on Fox. "It's difficult conditions, it's dangerous conditions, and it takes a lot of ingenuity to figure out how to do some of these civil-military things they're doing. But it is a sacrifice that is going to make our children and our grandchildren safer, because the battle to win the peace in Iraq now is the central battle in the war on terrorism.

"Any American death is a terrible thing, but I think the American public understands that when you're fighting a war against terrorists, you're fighting for the security of this country, that sacrifice is something that you've got to expect," he said.

"The president has said from the beginning, since Sept. 11, this war on terrorism is going to be a long war, and if you think about how many people we lost in just a single day just to commercial aircraft -- it's not going to be over easily," Wolfowitz said. "I mean, the war goes on in Afghanistan, and we're rounding up terrorists everywhere.

"When (Saddam's sons) Uday and Qusay were killed, we acknowledged that there would very likely be a spike in violence. But what we also said was that this was going to build the confidence of the Iraqi people to give us information," he noted on "Meet the Press."

Since then, Wolfowtiz told Fox, more intelligence information is coming forward. "You can't predict these things in a military operation. What you can know, and this is encouraging, is that the volume of intelligence information that's coming is growing enormously. The cooperation by the local populations is growing," he said.

He pointed out the recent successes in finding Saddam's two sons and capturing the commander of the Special Republican Guard. Another tip by Iraqis resulted in 660 surface-to-air missiles being confiscated, one weapon "we we're concerned with," he said.

"So we are making progress. I can't tell you when they (the attackers) will give up."

Wolfowitz also countered critics of current troop levels needed to secure peace in Iraq and to provide better security for U.S. soldiers. The number of troops in the country is adequate, he said.

"The important point is that our troops, our commanders will get what they need," he said on "Meet the Press." "They've been asked repeatedly, 'Do you need more?' They say, 'Right now, at least, we don't want more.'"

He acknowledged that help is still coming. "I've visited a Polish brigade that's going to take over a whole province of Iraq," he noted. He also said an Italian brigade would do the same in another province.

Wolfowitz also pointed out that once the Iraqi police, army and civil defense forces are properly trained, they will take over much of the security of the country now being done by American forces.

He admitted that U.S. officials should "probably have started sooner to enlist Iraqis to fight for their country. They are part of the coalition. Many of them are willing to die for their country. It is much more appropriate to have Iraqis guarding banks and guarding power lines than to have Americans or even Pols or Spaniards, and that's where we need to go."

"Iraqis are prepared to die for their country, and Iraqis can do some of these jobs as well or better than we can," he reiterated on Fox News.

Wolfowitz said that violence and resistance has stabilized in northern and southern Iraq, but that U.S and coalition forces still face danger in the "Baathist, Saddamist heartland," including Saddam's hometown of Tikrit. There, he said, "killers of old regime are putting out $100 for someone to attack a power line and $500 for someone to attack an American, and that's where the trouble is coming from."

The No. 2 DoD leader said it's difficult to predict how much longer the attacks will continue. "You can't predict these things in a military operation," he told Fox News. However, he said he is encouraged at the volume of intelligence information being provided by the Iraqi people, which he said "is growing enormously."

Wolfowitz also responded to questions about the U.S. role in Liberia, where some 2,000 U.S. troops are situated off the coast. He said on Fox that U.S. troops will not hit the ground until a there is a cease-fire and Liberian president Charles Taylor has left the country.

When U.S. troops do go in, he said it will be to support forces from the Economic Community of West African States. "We are right now accessing the capabilities and how fast they can get there," he said.

Wolfowitz said the United Nations must "be in the lead" in dealing with the complex political problems of Liberia. He said that ECOWAS countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and the Senegal have expressed support to help stabilize the political situation there.

"We need to be sure that the United Nations does its responsibilities, where the West African States do their responsibilities, where if we assist, we're assisting in a situation that's on the road to a solution."

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