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Officials to Refine Baghdad Plan, Iraq Command Spokesman Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2006 – The plan to bring security to Baghdad has not been a failure, but coalition and Iraqi officials are going to refine it, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman said during an interview today.

Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said that any time the military puts a plan in play “you are constantly reassessing and reevaluating it. That’s what we’ve been doing since the beginning.”

He said the coalition is working with a new Iraqi ministerial group to make adjustments to the plan, and that Multinational Force Iraq commander Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. does this in a more informal way with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also.

“Tactically, we want to make some adjustments and refinements to the plan,” Caldwell said. “We will continue to execute the plan.”

The general said violence and progress co-exist in Iraq. “We’re going to have to continue on working for progress within the country with the rebuilding of the country, with the governance piece, with the economic piece,” he said. “Simultaneously, we’re dealing with the levels of violence that we experience at different intensities at different times at different areas.”

The coalition’s overall goal is eventually to build the government of Iraq to where it can handle its own security, Caldwell said. It must be able to keep violence below a level at which a local police force can handle it.

The general said Iraq will have violence, criminal activity and terrorist activity for years to come. “We recognize the fact that it’s going to be many, many years before this country sees a level of violence that’s more normal to what we’re used to in America and what Westerners would want to see,” he said.

“What we have to do is develop the Iraqi security forces to such that they are able and capable of handling those three various levels of violence, bringing them down to some level to where the security forces are just above them, and can handle it, and that’s the point which we’ll be allowed – or able – to disengage our forces,” he said.

That is going to take a political solution more than a military one, he said, and it’s a solution the Iraqi government – in office just over 150 days now – is beginning to address. He said Maliki is engaged in a tremendous amount of dialogue. The Council of Representatives is meeting and is making the tough choices, he added.

Maliki has held two national reconciliation conferences already, and continues to work with different political and sectarian factions. “He’s engaged in dialogue and working with all the different sects,” Caldwell said. “That’s exactly what has to occur if we are going to come to a political solution in this country, because it is up to the Iraqi people to rebuild and secure their country. (It’s) not something we can do; we can only set the stage.”

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