Elections Boosted Iraqi Security Forces, Myers Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 11, 2005 Iraq's Jan. 30 elections gave a huge boost to the confidence and reputation of the country's new security forces, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress March 10.
"Security for Iraqi elections was done primarily by Iraqi security forces, both inner and outer cordons," Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers told the House Armed Services Committee. "There were, I think, 11 suicide bombers that attempted to penetrate. None of them did."
Iraqi security forces -- the Iraqi police, special police units and the Iraqi army -- provided the bulk of security around more than 5,000 polling places. Coalition forces only become involved in the security picture in a few areas of Anbar province, most notably Fallujah.
In most locations Iraqis manned the first two security rings around polling places, with coalition forces standing by as a rapid reaction force to be called on only if the Iraqis ran into something they couldn't handle.
There were more than 200 insurgent attacks on Jan. 30, and none succeeded in disrupting the electoral process.
"Out of that, a couple of things happened," Myers said. "One is, the Iraqi security forces had a lot of confidence in their ability, and the Iraqi people have a lot of confidence in their security forces. Confidence is important. They built their confidence over that election period."
And confidence is contagious, he said. Following the election, enlistment offices were jammed. Iraqis saw how their security forces operated and clamored to join.
"I ... personally have faith in the Iraqi officers that I've met," Myers said.
He said coalition forces will continue to train Iraqi security forces, and NATO allies are also stepping up their training efforts. The chairman said he is confident "that with our support, our training, our equipping and our mentoring, that they will be a force for good in that country."