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Iraqis Shouldering Security Burden, Myers Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2005 – Iraqi forces are taking control of their own country, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today at the Foreign Press Center here.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said an Iraqi battalion has taken over from El Salvadoran forces in Diwaniyah, Iraq. This is the third area that Iraqi forces have taken over security responsibility. The others are in northern Baghdad and in Kirkuk. Diwaniyah is in the area commanded by Multinational Division Central South.

"This is significant because it demonstrates that yet another unit is capable of planning and executing and sustaining operations with some level of coalition support," Myers said.

The chairman said that political progress in Iraq and Afghanistan will be decisive against the insurgency and the Taliban. He said he is encouraged by the progress Iraqis are making in writing their constitution - due Aug. 15 - and the progress the Afghan government is making as assembly/provincial elections approach Sept. 18.

"It's my view it's the success of the political process that will defeat violent extremists in the end, not just in those two countries," Myers said. "And the U.S. and its coalition partners are committed to seeing that that happens."

Time and again, Myers reminded the reporters, that it is political progress that defeats insurgencies, not simple military force. The general said that military forces can provide the stability and security needed for political progress to happen.

In both countries, the United States, its allies and national forces anticipate an upswing in violence as these dates draw nearer. But, he said, it is clearly the will of the people in both countries that elections and the transition to democracy move forward.

"We're up against people who are creating crimes against civilization with no particular political goal for any particular country other than their view of life," the chairman said. "And there are not many people on this planet that can align with them."

He said the struggle is "totally not" about any particular religion. "This is about violent extremism, crimes against civilization, crimes against humanity that would not fit in any of our religions," he said.

In Iraq, drawing people into the political process is the way forward. Sunni Arabs stayed away from the Jan. 30 national election. They now realize that was a mistake and want to participate, said DoD officials.

The Shiia majority could have ignored the Sunnis and continued on, but they did not. Instead they have appointed Sunni leaders to help write the constitution and still others to advise the National Assembly. This will do much to calm the Arabs in the four provinces that make up the Sunni Triangle.

"As the people in those four provinces feel there is political progress being made and that they're part of it, and they have a vote," they will turn away from violent extremists, Myers said.

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Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF

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