Rumsfeld: Changes in Iraqi Force Levels Reflect Dynamic Situation
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2006 A planned increase in Iraqi security forces is a result of ongoing assessments of the situation in Iraq and will allow coalition forces to shift to more of a supporting role in that country, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld escorts Estonian Defense Minister Jurgen Ligi through a cordon of honor guards and into the Pentagon, Oct. 31. The two defense leaders met to discuss a range of international issues of mutual interest. Photo by James M. Bowman
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Speaking after a meeting with Estonian Defense Minister Jurgen Ligi at the Pentagon, Rumsfeld said the plans for an increase in Iraqi forces are on his desk, and he expects the Iraqi government to announce the increase soon. The increase is based on recommendations from the Iraqi government and U.S. Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq.
“I’m very comfortable with the increases they’ve proposed and the accelerations in the achievement of some of their targets that they’ve proposed,” Rumsfeld said. “Now it’s simply a matter of our pressing forward and getting our portion of the funding from Congress and working to see that it’s executed.”
The numbers of Iraqi forces needed have changed several times because the Iraqi government has seen different leadership, and the United States is continually assessing the situation in Iraq and adjusting its recommendations, Rumsfeld said.
“The goal is to have the Iraqis have a number of security forces that are sufficiently capable, equipped and trained and effective that they can provide for the security for that country and support the government,” he said. “That’s the goal, and the sooner the better; we’ve said that all along.”
As Iraqi forces increase, coalition forces will move away from traditional missions, such as combat patrols, Rumsfeld said. Coalition forces will be used to provide critical combat support functions for the Iraqis and to train Iraqi forces until they develop their own support systems, he said.
The Iraqi government has a complex job in developing a democracy and ridding the country of sectarian strife, Rumsfeld noted, but the will of the people is clearly united.
“Twelve million people in Iraq voted, and clearly the overwhelming majority of people in Iraq want a peaceful Iraq,” he said.