General Will Assess Iraqi Training, Not War Strategy
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2005 A retired Army general isn't going to Iraq to assess the effectiveness of U.S. warfighting operations there, but rather will evaluate efforts to develop Iraqi security forces, a senior Defense Department spokesman told reporters here today.
Retired Gen. Gary E. Luck and a support team will soon go to Iraq "to provide some assessment of how we're doing" in training and fielding Iraqi security units, spokesman Lawrence Di Rita noted at a Pentagon press briefing.
Luck, who advised then-U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Tommy R. Franks during the Iraq campaign in 2003, was described by Di Rita as "an extraordinarily intelligent individual" who "knows an awful lot of what we're doing in Iraq."
Iraqi police and military units have so far experienced mixed results in engagements against insurgents, Di Rita observed, noting "areas where the Iraqi security forces have performed well" and instances "where they've performed sub-optimally."
Asked by a reporter to verify speculation that Luck will also assess the overall U.S. military strategy in Iraq, Di Rita replied: "That's not true; I mean, it's just not accurate."
Luck is going to Iraq "to take a look at Iraqi security-force development," Di Rita said.
"That's the mission," he reiterated, noting that the Pentagon has periodically sanctioned similar evaluations of how Iraqi security forces are being trained and used.
"This is another one of those assessments," Di Rita noted.
Iraqi security forces "are getting more and more involved in the security of Iraq," Di Rita said. He acknowledged the Pentagon's interest in keeping their training "on track" and "to see that they continue to perform to their utmost potential."
Di Rita said he didn't know the full complement of Luck's support team.
"Multinational forces and Iraqi security forces will continue offensive operations to ensure that conditions are set to support a safe and secure environment" for the Jan. 30 elections, remarked Army Brig. Gen. David Rodriguez, the Joint Staff's deputy director for operations, who accompanied Di Rita to the press briefing.
Rodriguez also updated reporters on U.S. military support for tsunami aid in South Asia, noting that more than 13,000 servicemembers deployed to the region have distributed more than 365 tons of supplies. American aircrews have flown more than 450 rescue, recovery and supply missions to bring aid to tsunami victims, the general said.