Security Isn't Sole Solution for Iraq, General Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2006 Security in Iraq, while important, will not alone win the war against insurgents, a top U.S. commander said here today.
For Iraq to be successful in its new democracy, it must have governance, economic development and functioning ministries in its government, Army Lt. Gen. John Vines, commander of 18th Airborne Corps, said at the State of the Military Health System 2006 Annual Conference.
"The soldiers in the field are doing a very good job at the tactical level; but tactical success can't be translated into operational strategic success until we have ministries and contingents sustained in the longer term," Vines, who relinquished command of Multinational Corps Iraq Jan. 19, said.
The Iraqi people must make the effort now to achieve this end state of functioning government ministries and a stable security environment, Vines said. U.S. and coalition forces have worked hard to set conditions for a democratic process in Iraq, and now it is up to the Iraqis to choose what their government and their country will look like, he said.
"Iraqis, by virtue of the courage, professionalism, personal sacrifice and blood of the coalition and your soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, have been given a historic opportunity," he said.
The solution to the situation in Iraq is not more U.S. troops, but more highly developed capability of Iraqi security forces, Vines said. Many Iraqis view the U.S. military as an occupying force, and therefore resist it by supporting the insurgents, he said.
"The answer is yes, we need more troops, but we need different kinds of troops," he said. "We need Iraqis, not coalition forces."
Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi government are moving in the right direction, Vines said, but they still face many challenges. They must battle insurgent infiltration of security forces, corruption, criminality and border security problems, all while protecting their vulnerable infrastructure, he said.
Another challenge is determining which ministry has authority in certain parts of the country, he said. This issue is complicated, because the army and police force are stronger in different areas, he explained.
Despite the challenges now facing Iraqis, they have made amazing progress in the last year, Vines said. Iraqis defied terrorist threats to participate in three national elections and now have the most liberal constitution in any Islamic country, he said. Iraq is a land rich in history, he said, but 2005 stood out as a historic year for Iraqis.