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Ramadi Solution Will Be Up to Iraqi Government, General Says

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2006 – Although 1,500 U.S. troops were deployed this week from Kuwait to help calm the recent surge of violence in Ramadi, Iraq, the decision about how to handle the problem in that area ultimately belongs to the Iraqi government, a U.S. general involved in planning operations said here today.

"There is a contest in Ramadi right now, and that is a contest for the Iraqi government to figure out how to deal with. Our job is to help them do that," Army Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, deputy director for regional operations for the Joint Staff, said in a Pentagon news briefing.

Ramadi probably is the most contentious city in Iraq, as assassinations and intimidation efforts by insurgents continue, Ham said. The U. S. is committed to helping Iraqis restore the rule of law in Ramadi, but the goal is for Iraqi security forces to be operating in and around the city, he said.

"There's one thing I know, and that is that Ramadi will not be under U.S. control," Ham said. "It is and will always be under Iraqi control. It's Iraq -- it's their country. Our job is to help them."

The Iraqis will need U.S. support to restore order in Ramadi, Ham said, but he said he remains confident that they will be able to make the right decisions and control their own country.

"The demonstrated ability of the Iraqi security forces, particularly over the past several months, doesn't leave me with any question about their ability to operate effectively, once it is that their government decides what the plan will be," he said.

The force that was deployed from Kuwait was stationed there specifically to act as a reserve force, Ham said. Having available reserve forces gives the commanders on the ground the flexibility to deal with unpredictable tactical situations, he said.

"The important thing is that the commanders retain the ability to have a reserve force that they can commit for unforeseen circumstances," he said. "They clearly do have that capability, and will continue to have that capability."

Ham also commended the Afghan government for its handling of the protests following the deadly vehicle accident this week. Afghan security forces established control and the Afghan government implemented policies and made public addresses to deal with the situation, he said.

"Certainly, we are all deeply remorseful that an accident in which a U.S. vehicle was involved resulted in loss of life and injuries," he said. "Moreover, we should be cognizant of the fact that a freely elected government of Afghanistan managed this situation effectively. That could not have happened only a few short years ago."

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Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, USA

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