New 'Bundled' Iraq Laws Show Legislative Maturity, Officials Say
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2008 The passage of a “bundle” of three important laws in Iraq shows a new legislative maturity for the Iraqi parliament, Pentagon officials said here today during a news conference in which they also discussed the redeployment of troops.
The three laws – an amnesty law, a provincial powers law and the Iraqi calendar year 2008 budget – passed the Council of Representatives yesterday, said Marine Lt. Gen. John Sattler, the Joint Staff director of strategic plans and operations. Sattler and Army Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, the Joint Staff director of operations, spoke during the news conference.
“One of the key points here is that they bundled all three of these critical pieces of legislation together,” Sattler said. “And, as a council of representatives, they have figured now that you don't have to take one piece of legislation at a time and negotiate it; that by bundling, you can cross and trade across pieces of legislation to get an agreement.”
The legislation joins the debaathification law passed in January as benchmarks the world looks to when marking the progress of the Iraqi government, Sattler said.
The general also said that the Iraqi legislature is still working on a hydrocarbon law – essentially revenue-sharing of the nation’s oil wealth. The legislature also must pass an election law that will set the date for elections.
“This is a key move in the right direction for unification and to get onward with the provincial elections and provincial power-sharing and a federal system,” Sattler said.
In addition to discussing Iraq's legal situation, the officials also discussed the return of some troops from Iraq.
Ham confirmed the next U.S. brigade combat team will redeploy out of Iraq next month. It will be the second of the five brigades that will come out without replacement, the general said. After that a brigade will leave about every six weeks through July. At the end there will be 15 U.S. brigade combat teams or their equivalents in the country.
But the brigade combat teams were not the only U.S. forces to be part of the surge. Combat service and combat service support units accompanied them. When those units will redeploy is part of the on-going assessment in Iraq now, Ham said. When those forces come out of Iraq will be part of the recommendations from Multinational Forces Iraq, U.S. Central Command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in April.
Before the surge, there were about 132,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The number of U.S. forces in Iraq after the last brigade leaves in July will likely be a bit larger than that, Ham said.
“The important thing to remember is that everybody, from the president on down, has always said that the force posture will be based on conditions on the ground,” Ham said. “And those are, as you're well aware, ever changing.”
The needs of the Iraqis also must be taken into account, Sattler said. The coalition began building the Iraqi military combat forces first.
“We always knew we would provide the enablers as we grow their logistics capacity and capability, their artillery, all the other supporting arms and combat support elements,” Sattler said. Even as Iraqis grow up toward 600,000 for a total security force, the coaltion still will be required to provide support for some time, he said.