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Military Success Dependent on Political Process, Officer Says

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2005 – If the political system in Iraq holds together, the military development will be successful, a senior U.S. military officer said Oct. 13.

The combination of political and military progress is key to overall success in Iraq, the officer, speaking on background, said. And there is confidence among military leaders about the future, he added.

Violence will undoubtedly increase around Iraq as the referendum approaches and occurs, but the insurgents will not be successful in their aims to disrupt the political process, the officer said.

"We should just prepare ourselves for a violent couple of day. But, on the other hand, I don't think there's anything that's going to stand in the way of the referendum taking place," he said. "We're confident about that."

Iraqi security forces have much more responsibility now than they did during the January elections, the officer said. More than 200,000 Iraqi security forces are now trained and equipped, and they are invested in the defense of their country, he said.

"Iraqi forces are in the field more," he said. "They're taking casualties that are commensurate with the amount that they're fighting, and they're fighting quite a bit."

Whether the constitution passes or fails in the referendum, the most important thing is that the political process continues through the December elections, when a new government will be voted in, the officer said. This new government will be more representative of Iraqi society as a whole, he said, and will encourage positive progress in the country.

In preparation for the referendum, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq has been increased from 135,000 to 155,000, the officer said. Those forces, coupled with the 200,000 Iraqi troops and 22,000 coalition troops, form a formidable presence that leaders are confident will provide security for Iraq and, ultimately, for the future of the U.S., he said.

"We believe that what we're doing out here does an awful lot to help keep things safe back home," he said.

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